There are a range of social bookmarking sites available online which can help you manage references to electronic resources.
Delicious allows you to keep a log of bookmarked pages which can be accessed from any computer, rather than book- marking pages on individual machines.
To set up, all that is needed is a yahoo account- if you already have this, creating a delicious account takes seconds.
While there is no substitute for old fashioned library research, the recommendations function can be helpful to locate articles and references that you otherwise may have missed. By setting up networks of users, sharing bookmarks could be a useful for preparing for group work or presentations.
Notes can be added to references and more crucially, the bookmarks can be tagged. Such folksonomies are common to anyone already using flickr or youtube, but to gain the best use of this in an organisational context, it may be necessary to control the vocabulary used: bookmarks which may be useful to be shared with others might not be found by other users if idiosyncratic tags are used. There are also options to add a message to the bookmark, which then can be sent via email or twitter to other users; useful if you are feeling generous and find a page that would be useful for a friend’s essay.
Once you have created a list of resources it if possible to find articles and web pages which may be of interest that otherwise might have been missed. Given the size of the network, this can be a little hit or miss- ‘also tagged by….’ Would refer to the whole network and so could be a little nebulous, and while it can be useful to find other references, a more worthwhile approach would be to add specific users to your network (under the ‘People’ tab)- this way different work groups could access each others bookmarks.
Superficially, Delicious would appear to be more useful in a social rather than academic setting. However, by creating a distinct network of users relating to a particular area of work it could be a useful tool to share references. This would be enhanced if used for particular projects or set areas of work, and possibly agreeing on a brief list of tags to be used.
What is citeulike?
CiteULike is a free service to help you to store, organize and share the scholarly papers you are reading. When you see a paper on the web that interests you, you can click one button and have it added to your personal library. CiteULike automatically extracts the citation details, so there’s no need to type them in yourself. It all works from within your web browser so there’s no need to install any software. Because your library is stored on the server, you can access it from any computer with an Internet connection. [from CiteULike.com]
The advantage of CiteULike over delicious is citation management and could be a useful tool in preparing resources for an essay, or as a means for organizing a list of references into a consistent and clear format. For citation help, Zotero is also worth exploring.
To get the best out of the service, you have to be quite aware of some information retrieval techniques which go beyond a simple search-engine search. For example to quickly search for articles which contain a given tag within your library of articles, the tag can be added to the end of the URL of your logged in page, with Boolean operators. While this produces quick results for those familiar with these techniques, it may present a fairly steep learning curve to those who are not.
For help in honing your internet searching skills, Intute has a range of online tutorials offering advice of critically evaluating resources and improving search techniques.
Graduate Trainee Library Assistant