So I decided that I didn’t have enough on my plate and took over the role of RefWorks Administrator at the Leonard Lief Library. And, actually, it’s quite a peaceful gig, considering how underutilized this tool is on my campus. (Approximately 3.8% of faculty have created an account in RefWorks. The figure for students is at a dismal 1.6%.) However, I want to turn that around. Everyone on campus — especially those involved in research, such as graduate students and junior faculty — should know about this citation management tool.

Informing the masses, however, is an ambitious undertaking. That means that I have to offer training workshops and market them strategically (hitting up deans, chairs of departments, faculty listservs, library liaisons; putting up posters in high-traffic areas; distributing flyers; reaching out to the writing center; teaming up with the faculty commons; et cetera). And then, y’know, I have to actually teach the workshops. (Remember how terrified of teaching I am?) I don’t expect tremendous turnouts so I’m actually not quite so freaked out about teaching these sessions. I am, however, struggling to figure out the best approach to teaching them.

I’m quite aware that these workshops have to be interactive and hands-on. (How else do you learn to use a tool other than by using it?) However, even the most useful tool won’t be exciting unless the user has an interest in learning it. So how does one make learning RefWorks fun?

Very serendipitously, a message came through one of my subscribed listservs (ILI-L) today: “How do you make RefWorks fun?” My favorite response so far:

I always start by showing them how RefWorks can be used to create bibliographies or works cited lists. I use a folder that has quite a long list of citations in it and then ask the students how long they think it would take them to create a properly formatted list of x number of citations and also share with them that I think it would take me about a minute each.

So I think that’s the tactic I’ll use: prepare a folder of 50+ citations and automagically generate a bibliography at the beginning of class. That should turn some heads and pique some interests, yes?

Do you teach RefWorks on your campus? How do you make it fun/interesting/relevant? How is RefWorks advertised/marketed at your library/college?