Pathways To Best Practice 7: Bibliographic management


Bibliographic management on mobile devices.

State of maturity

Early adopters mainly, though some library users are utilising existing mobile apps and libraries with existing subscriptions may have access to mobile bibliographic management options.

Explanation of area

Bibliographic management was once only possible by specialist desktop software, however recent years has seen this move online. Services such as RefWorks make this online access from anywhere a key feature. Though it is unlikely that people will want to format complex bibliographies for assignments on their mobile devices, they may well want to add resources this way or access a list of resources to remind them of items to read.

Examples of functionality in this area include:

  • Mobile apps for bibliographic management
  • Mobile websites for bibliographic management
  • Adding resources from mobile devices manually
  • Adding resources from mobile devices by using camera functionality
  • Editing bibliographic records via mobile devices (e.g. adding notes)

Examples of work in area

Library Sector Country Overview of work Links/resources
University of Bristol Higher Education UK Developed JISC-funded m-biblio app (iOS native app for bibliographic management). Input via barcode – either scan with camera or type number. m-biblio project blog and tour of the m-biblio app

Lessons learned from work so far

  • User feedback is incredibly useful at all stages when developing your own bibliographic management app i.e. initial scoping and ongoing testing and evaluation.
  • Feedback from users so far indicates knowledge of reference management options may be lacking – users need guidance on this.
  • Data from these technologies may help libraries as well as users (i.e. to identify which resources are being used, particularly relevant for reference materials and other items used within the library but not loaned).
  • Formatting is a major pain point of bibliographic management – this is one area where the library could really help (e.g. by ensuring the institution uses same style where possible and by developing reference styles for apps).
  • Need to consider a variety of different workflows, for example some users will want to export formatted lists directly into assignments while others will want to import them into their existing reference management system.

Key contacts

Mike Jones (University of Bristol):
Alison McNab (De Montford University):

Useful links

Bibliographic management on mobile devices – presentation given by Mike Jones (University of Bristol) at JISC-funded mobile technologies in libraries: information sharing event.
Bibliographic management on mobile devices – blog post and notes from above workshop.
Reference management on the move – Alison McNab’s (De Montford University) presentation at Internet Librarian International 2011.
RefWorks mobile – includes downloadable factsheet.
EndNote Web mobile – login screen.
Mendeley mobile (iOS) – information on App Store.
Mendeley on Android app roundup blog post (no official Mendeley app, but number of apps from developers using APIs).
EasyBib – bibliographic management tool that has an iPhone app and an Android app.

Updated: 23 August 2012 by Jo Alcock as part of JISC m-library community support project.

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