In text citations are still required – can they be done more efficiently?

When I taught f2f every semester included at least one trip to Cabell Library for a class taught by a librarian. It is very important for first year graduate students to be clear about the fact that we live in the information age and it is librarians who have the expertise to connect us to the information that we need. I have excellent information retrieval skills. When I encounter a search problem  that I cannot solve, I contact Dr. Nita Bryant the research librarian for sociology. Her information retrieval skills exceed mine.

The research guide created by Dr. Bryant includes links to resources on APA Style

I make a point of introducing students to RefWorks because it is supported by the Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries. If there is any question that students need answered about RefWorks, there is a librarian with the expertise to answer it. In Cabell, that librarian is Marilyn Scott. In Tompkins that librarian is Jennifer McDaniel. Graduate students  should introduce themselves to the librarians and take the courses that they teach on using the resources provided by the Libraries. The failure to do this is to throw away an extremely valuable resource.

One of the most important facts about RefWorks is that you have access to your account for the rest of your life. Anything that you save in your RefWorks account will be available to you as long as you keep your account active.

Refworks was created when we relied on fewer forms of electronic information. It works best with the databases to which the library subscribes and with journal articles and the other items that such databases store. When it comes to the dealing with the dynamics of the web, RefWorks seems a tad old fashioned and more than a little bit clunky.  I have used RefGrab-It in the past. When I set out to install RefGrab-It on my new computers, the language sounded so archaic to me that I gave up. I knew a faster way to get the job done.


ProQuest, the parents of RefWorks have already produced a new child, ProQuest Flow. You can sign up for a free version or for a version through your university connection. The difference is in how much storage you are allowed. I was impressed by the way that Flow identified my publications and pulled them all into one folder. However, when I tried to save web based references, I was once again disappointed. You can try it for yourself or you can read some reviews.

Reviews of ProQuest Flow

This is what I consider to be most telling. Proquest has redesigned the interface to their databases to be more user friendly.  The export options include RefWorls but not Flow. When the Flow option was there, it never worked correctly for me. It appears to have been systemically problematic and is now not included in the export to list.


I am a, “Ride til you Die” kind of academic  (Yes, not only do I switch code, I also mix code). I expect appropriate in-text citations, followed up by a References Cited list. I  have demonstrated my flexibility through my willingness to accept APA rather than demanding ASR (and somewhere Diana Scully is still unhappy about my interdisciplinary tendencies).  However, I am not lax enough to say that electronic sources do not need in text citations. They most definitely do need them.

I expect them from myself and I hate to type, therefore, I need a system that can pull appropriate citation information from the web .The system with which I  am currently working  is called Zotero. Zotero gives you many options. I prefer to work with Zotero for Firefox. I also enjoy the Zotero bar code scanner on my phone. Now that I am retired most of my meetings are with doctoral students. We meet in the coffee shops of bookstores. The bar code scanner allows me to collect all of the bibliographic information on a book before I have purchased it. It creates my wish list.

Zotero also collects all of the bibliographic information that I need to add am electronic resource to a list. I am, for example, looking for a set of readings for my seminar in Food and Nutrition that connects both the ecological and the systems approach back to sociology. I am only going to ask students to read one of each. In preparation, I must read many. These are a few of the websites that Zotero has captured for me.

Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science (CSISS). (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2015, from


Debra Marshall. (2013). Talcott Parsons’ Systems Levels. Retrieved from


Ecology. | (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2015, from


Hawley, A. H. (1944). Ecology and Human Ecology. Social Forces, 22(4), 398–405.


Hawley, A. H., & Duncan, O. D. (1957). Social Area Analysis: A Critical Appraisal. Land Economics, 33(4), 337–345.


Social, Ecological and Environmental Theories of Crime. (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2015, from /default.aspx?page=637&calcTitle=1&isbn=9780754628972&lang=cy-GB

Social Research Glossary. (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2015, from


Talcott Parsons: Action Systems and Social Systems. (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2015, from


Talcott Parsons – An Outline of the Social System.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved from


Talcott Parsons, the Social System Talcott Parsons, Social Thinkers, Sociology Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2015, from


THE SOCIAL SYSTEM – TalcottParsonsSocialSystem.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved from


With Zotero providing the list, I can copy and paste the information required for an in text citation. I am sure that some of the other bibliographic software packages that pushed Proquest into trying to design Flow so that it integrates with the databases handle this more efficiently. I just have not tried them all yet. What can I say, there are so many references and so little time. Now here is where you get to understand that I am really old and stuck in my ways. I will export the reference information that Zotero saves for me into Refworks.


So yes, I do understand that in text citations of web based materials can be tedious. From my perspective a little tedium reduces inflated reference lists. If a reference is not important enough for you to figure out how to do the in text citation, then it is not important enough to be included in the list of references.


2 thoughts on “In text citations are still required – can they be done more efficiently?

  1. I have used this program Endnote successfully; it automatically inserts references in ASA format ( in fact, you can program it to take a multitude of different disciplinary formats and switch pretty easily). It isn’t free, though, like Zotero.

    • I have used Endnote and Reference Manager. The last version that I bought was given away in an unopened box because students and faculty at VCU were provided with access to RefWorks. It too has a “Cite While You Write Feature.” When a person graduates from VCU they can continue to use their RefWorks account at no charge. So, I use Zotero for some of its features, like barcode reading, and then transfer the references to RefWorks.

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