Workshop: Reference Management with Mendeley – Aug 24, 2013 – Event Report

Did you know that you could organize your references neatly in folders, remove duplicate references, set up alerts to specific folders wherein you store your references, generate a bibliography with just one click!

This was our first full-fledged workshop on Reference Management and we had 16 registrations. So here is a pre-during-post workshop report for you!

Pre- Workshop (@ QMed office) – 7 pm, Friday ( 23rd Aug)

We are giving final touches to the presentation. It’s been two days we are working on it – creating content, refining the presentation techniques, adding elements that will make the learning and delivery as simple as possible. This work spills over to the next morning as well.

7.30 pm – We test our projector and laptop and realise that the projector is behaving weird. After spending almost half an hour on it, we decide to get it tested the next morning and in the worst case,  use a back-up laptop.

Next Morning (day of the actual workshop)

After many attempts to set the projector right, we decide to use another laptop. (It turned out that our recently acquired Windows 8 laptop is not compatible with our projector!)   All set, we leave for the venue but encounter unexpected traffic snarls. We are told that a road has caved-in because of a pipeline burst at Marine Drive and to top that there was a VIP visitor to Mumbai. We thankfully had left well in advance and hence reach half an hour prior to the workshop. Now our immediate concern is whether all participants would make it to the venue.

Guess what? Everyone who had registered, comes in (with minor delays)

We had a committed mix of faculty, students and consultants. We first gave participants a brief session on some of the most fundamental principles of Literature Searching because we felt that they always needed to have the best of references in their Reference Manager!

A pre-workshop exercise re-affirmed the need and importance of such a workshop on reference management. When we asked the participants to share their methods of storing and organizing references. All all of them said that they would store there references/full text articles on their computer/laptop and believed that this was the best way. This certainly is not the best way (exceptions could be if you have fewer references). A reference management software goes a long way in managing your every-day/specific references.

The first segment of our workshop focused on adding records/importing full text articles into the software and ensuring that the bibliographic records were imported correctly. During the break one of the participants mentioned “your workshop is structured and planned meticulously and the content is delivered in a lucid manner”. Yes, we felt supremely good!

In the second segment we made a mock article in which the participants would insert the stored references. This exercise was to give them a hands-on feel of writing an article. In this process we covered elements of searching, storing, organizing and citing references. They were given exercises to practice. Mendeley had many additional features added recently and we incorporated these in our workshop, as we were sure it would make managing references that much more organized.

All the hard work put in refining the presentation paid off as the workshop flowed smoothly with sufficient practice sessions for the participants. The mixed bunch of faculty/students and consultants appreciated the workshop and felt that literature search and reference management should be a part of the medical curriculum (Are the applicable medical bodies listening???)

A few of the feedbacks we got:

  • The learnings from this workshop will go a long way in saving our time as professionals and researchers.
  • Thank you for teaching something very important in the field of research

Seeing the high level of interest for our detailed workshop on Literature search we announced one immediately. See our website for the announcement.

@ 6 pm as we sipped a cup of tea in the Xavier’s canteen, we were happy and proud that QMed’s “first workshop on a reference management software” not only went well but garnered appreciation from all the participants. This is testimony enough that we need more workshops like these in medical schools and hospitals to train students as well as professionals in the correct ways of storing and citing their references.

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Lakshmi Padmanabhan

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