Collecting and Managing References - Exercises


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BL Magna Carta

  • This is a Group task and will require a account.

The BL has been celebrating the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta with a series of events and major exhibition. As a collaborative exercise, create an annotated bibliography of online writing (and other content) about, or related to, the exhibition, to create a resource for evaluating and reporting on the impact of the exhibition and related activities, for curators, managers, press officers, library stakeholders, etc.

It should include examples of different kinds of writing, including:

  • news stories
  • reviews by professional critics and academics
  • more personal reactions (in blogs, social media, etc)
  • articles, blog posts etc, referring to the exhibition to spark discussion of its historical, cultural, political themes

Collaboration doesn’t just mean “everyone search Google and use the first ten results”. Don’t worry if there’s some duplication, but do try to divide up labour (eg, by different kinds of source). Similarly, some of the group could focus on finding things and others on annotating and organising.

Possible sources include…

  • News/newspaper websites (BBC, Guardian, Telegraph, Times, Independent, Mail, FT, Mirror, NY Times, etc); Google News
  • Online magazines (LRB, TLS, New Statesman, Spectator…)
  • Google Blogs Search, Google+
  • Google Scholar
  • BL’s own catalogues


  • Tag items by keywords, subjects, themes, so on
  • Organise into folders (eg by type of story)
  • Annotate with key quotes, summaries, notes
  • Add attachments - snapshots, PDFs, links, useful references noted in stories

How to Zoterify your Research Stuff

  • Most likely an individual exercise, but if you’re with a research collaborator it could be tried out with a group library…

You’ve been doing research for a long time without a reference manager (or maybe with older tools that don’t enable online sharing and research management). You’d like to use something like Zotero, but you don’t *really* want to type in hundreds of old references. This activity is designed to help get over that initial barrier by exploring different ways to put a lot of stuff into your Zotero library and get it into shape without too much tedium.

For varying degrees of difficulty, you need at least one of the following (it doesn’t matter if the same references are duplicated):

  • an exported file of references from Endnote or another desktop tool you already use
  • a Word doc bibliography
  • an online bibliography in an HTML page or database

Bring files from your computer on a USB stick or upload them somewhere online you can easily access. For online sources, bring a note of URLs. I’ll also provide some further options.

Other possibilities

Old Bailey Online trial

Create an annotated bibliography of online historical and modern sources related to a single Old Bailey Online trial or small group of related trials, which you could use to write a short article or blog post (similar to the BL blogs) for a general audience.

In addition to the trial report itself, add some/all of the following:

  • at least one (ideally, more) primary source (ie, from the same historical period as the trial) from a different online resource
  • related/similar trial(s) or other material from OBO itself
  • relevant background pages from OBO; relevant wikipedia page(s) and/or blog post(s)
  • at least one relevant scholarly article (attach pdf/text if available)

Organise using tags, collections, relationships, as appropriate

Annotate with notes, quotes, links; add attachments

Recommended trials:

Daniel M’Naghten 1843 murder trial (also spelt M’Naughten, McNaughten, etc)

Giuseppe Farnara and Francis Polti, 1894 terrorism trial

Edward Oxford, 1840 trial for shooting at the Queen

Catherine (or Katherine) Hays, 1726 murder trial

Sarah Malcolm, 1733 murder trial

Other sources

A BL digital resource

Along the same lines as the OBO exercise - create an annotated bibliography but focused on digitised items from a favourite BL collection or a ‘treasure’, such as

  • Festival books
  • Digitised manuscripts
  • Shakespeare Quartos
  • A map
  • An audio item in a BL Sounds collection

It should be something that you already know something about (though not necessarily an area of specialist expertise) so that you already have an idea of where to look for related online sources. But any or all of the previous suggestions could apply.

Citation and bibliography management

For those who would like to try out the MS Word integration: create a Word document and use the sources gathered in the previous exercise to experiment with adding footnotes to text and creating a bibliography. Try out more than one citation style!

Alternatively, experiment with the export functions to export a bibliography/dataset of your collected sources for sharing. Try out different export/bibliography formats, including pasting a formatted bibliography into a Word document.

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This page was last modified on August 22, 2015, at 10:58 AM