Study skills tips & tricks: tracking and referencing

Someone working on a laptop, photographed from above

Here is the second instalment of academic study tips from Suzette. Tracking what you read is important in any student’s life – if you’re reading from lists or doing research. Start early with these tips, and you’ll breeze through the coming year!


  • I cannot reiterate enough: always reference your literature in your writing.
  • The referencing style at CJBS is Harvard.
  • For all your referencing style questions, see Cite Them Right.


  • Keeping track of your reference ‘library’ and the things you have read is very useful for your studies, and it will help you along the way. So, start early with tracking, and make it a habit. You can link this to your reading journal.
  • Make a list of all the references you have. Be sure to sort them into projects/courses:
    • For dissertation
    • For course x, for course y, etc…
  • If you write digital notes (or process your physical notes into a digital format), you can consider adding your notes to each reference in a list.
    • You can do this in an app like Zotero, or even keeping an Excel sheet with different tabs.


Zotero is very useful for keeping track of your reading! If you start using Zotero early in your project or studies, it is a programme that can manage all of your referencing for you. There are other apps with similar functionality.

  • Zotero allows you to add references into your ‘library’, it has a function for different types of material (books, journal articles, case studies, etc.)
  • You can create ‘sub’ libraries: this is perfect if you want to sort everything into projects. You can add different references to multiple projects.
  • You can use the tags in Zotero to keep track of your to-read, and what you have read.
  • In each reference you can add your notes. Zotero also lets you word-search your notes.
  • It allows you to export your references to Word, and also create a full bibliography, in any citing style you need (for CJBS that would be Harvard).
  • There is an extension for browsers (Firefox) that allows you to import articles easily.
  • You can download the app, but also log in via a browser, so you can access your reference library at all times.
  • Downsides: always check what Zotero imports (and edit as wanted), so that your referencing style is neat and concise.
    • It looks a bit daunting, but it is actually really user-friendly once you know how to navigate it.
    • Be sure to make backups of your references somewhere else.

Software recommendations: Zotero, Mendeley, Endnote, Excel

See also:

Suzette van Haaren

Suzette van Haaren

Information & Library Assistant
Suzette van Haaren

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