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Organizing Research

Organizing your scholarly articles and other research material may be as simple as saving those document files to your computer and placing them into clearly organized folders. Others may prefer to print out hard copies of your articles and file them in physical file folders. The Library provides additional approaches to organizing your research materials, as described below. Regardless of which method you choose, organizing your research is a crucial step in the overall research process. By organizing your research material you will be able to: easily retrieve your sources now and in the future; group similar sources together; and possibly identify potential patterns or links within your research topic.

Database Folders

Many Library databases allow you to create personal accounts in order to store and organize your research articles. Note that without creating an account, articles will remain in your folder only for your current browsing session. Creating a personal database account is a great way to store full text articles which you plan to use in your research. However, keep in mind that you will need to login to the database each time you want to access your saved articles.

To create a personal account in an EBSCOhost database, click the “Sign In” link in the top toolbar. If using Roadrunner Search, you will need to click on the Folder link at the top of the screen and then click on “Sign In to My EBSCOhost.” From the Sign In to My EBSCOhost screen, click the “Create a new Account” link, as shown below.

Fill in the fields on the Create a New Account screen. When you have completed the fields, click Save Changes.  If all the information was accepted, a message appears that provides your user name and password. Click OK. You will be automatically logged in as a personal user. You should note the user name and password you created so you can log in at a future session. A brief tutorial demonstrates the features of My EBSCOhost. 

To create a personal account in a ProQuest database, click the “My Research” link in the top toolbar. From the Welcome to My Research screen, click the “Create a My Research account” link, as shown below.


Fill in the fields on the Create a My Research account screen. You do have the option of linking an existing RefWorks account to your ProQuest My Research account. Once your accounts are synchronized, whatever you do with the folders, documents, and bibliographies in one system is reflected in the other. Again, this is an optional step. When you have completed the fields, click Create Account. 

If all the information was accepted, you will receive an automated email from ProQuest asking you to verify your email address to fully activate your My Research account. You should note the user name and password you created so you can log in at a future session.

Keep in mind, if you have not logged into ProQuest My Research through NCU Library for a period of 76 days, you will be notified by email that your My Research account will become inactive after 90 days. The email will explain that to avoid inactivation of your account, simply connect to ProQuest through the Library and then sign into your My Research account. Your account will remain active.

A brief tutorial demonstrates the features of ProQuest My Research.

While the instructions have been provided for creating personal accounts in EBSCOhost and ProQuest, you may wish to create accounts in additional databases, as well. Contact the Library if you encounter any difficulties creating personal database accounts. 

Keeping Track of Resources

One of the major steps in organizing your research is keeping track of all of the resources you have used. This process has come a long way from the old index card method in which you would record all of the bibliographic data you needed in order to cite the source. Today, there are electronic ways to record and organize your citations.

Many Library databases have tools that allow you to view, export, or email your resource citations in APA Style. Using a database’s citation feature will allow you to immediately display a citation on the database screen which can then be copied and pasted into your paper. This method is great for quickly recording a source that you have used. However, for long term storage and management of these citations, look at the section below on Citation Management Tools.

To access a database’s citation feature, look for a link that says “Cite,” “Citation Tools,” or something similar. In Roadrunner Search, this feature is located on the right-hand side of the detailed record screen, as shown below.


It is important to keep in mind that database citation features are not 100% accurate. Therefore, when using database citation tools, it is extremely important to double-check that all the needed citation elements are in place.



Citation Management Tools

It is likely that in the future, you will want to refer back to research material which you used for a course activity or paper. Or, perhaps you want to remember a particular article for use in your dissertation. It can be cumbersome or confusing to try to keep track of these articles by writing them down, or by storing them in computers folders. Luckily there are electronic programs which will accomplish this task for you. Called citation management tools, these resources allow you to easily gather, manage, store and share all types of research material, as well as generate citations and bibliographies.

As with the database cite feature, it is important to note that citation management tools, whether free or purchased, are subject to error. The only reference that is not subject to error is the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th Ed.). Therefore, when using citation management tools, it is extremely important to proofread your citations carefully.

Continue reading below for descriptions of citation management tools available through the Library and freely online.


The Library provides free access to RefWorks, a citation management tool that allows you to import citations directly from Library databases, or manually enter any citations so that you can organize them into folders, keep track of them in your papers, and produce an APA formatted reference list. Note that RefWorks is the Library's recommended citation management tool and we provide support and training on this resource.

Visit our RefWorks page for instructions on how to create an account, as well as RefWorks workshop recordings, FAQs, and additional support materials.

To see how RefWorks compares to EndNote, see our Library FAQ here.


The Library also provides free access to EndNote, a research management tool designed to work seamlessly with the Web of Knowledge database. You may navigate back and forth between Web of Knowledge and EndNote while collecting your research. EndNote allows you to store your references and PDFs, find full text, and create APA formatted bibliographies.

To access EndNote, you must first enter the Web of Knowledge database. To access Web of Knowledge from the Library’s home page, hover over Research Resources and click Databases. Web of Knowledge is also accessible from the Popular Databases menu on the Library’s home page. Once on the Web of Knowledge homepage, click the EndNote tab in the upper right.

You will need to set up an individual EndNote account the first time you use this database. Once you have clicked on the EndNote tab within Web of Knowledge, click “Register,” as shown below.

To see how RefWorks compares to EndNote, see our Library FAQ here.

For additional assistance with EndNote, view the Endnote FAQs and tutorial videos here. Note that the Library does not provide support for EndNote beyond these resources.


Additional Resources

Additional research organization tools which may require an account setup or purchase are described below. Click here to read reviews on some of these products from NCU students, faculty, and alumni.  Keep in mind, however, that these resources may not integrate with the NCU Library databases. Additionally, the Library cannot provide technical support for these citation management tools.

BibDesk – Free reference management software package for Mac OS X.

CiteULike – Free service which expands beyond traditional bibliographic management tools by connecting you with other researchers with similar interests; allows you to store and search PDFs.

EasyBib – Automatically formats, alphabetize, and prints bibliographies for free.

Evernote - Collect information from anywhere and save it in one single place: from notes, web clips, files, images and more, on any device. Free and premium accounts.

Mendeley – Free reference manager and academic social network that can help you organize your research, collaborate with others online, and discover the latest research.

Reference Manager – Citation management program available for purchase.

Zotero – Free research tool that helps you gather, organize, and analyze sources (citations, full texts, web pages, images and other objects). Zotero is a Firefox (browser) add-on. See the Library's Zotero Basics FAQ for more information. 


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