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Justin Quaintance

U of C cancels subscription to RefWorks

By Nikayla Goddard, October 18 —

The University of Calgary’s Libraries and Cultural Resources department has decided to cancel its subscription to RefWorks, a citation generator and bibliography software tool used by many U of C students and faculty.

According to Libraries and Cultural Resources, the subscription to the program will be cancelled due to both rising prices and the availability of other options. The U of C will officially cut off access to RefWorks by the end of 2016.

“The University of Calgary is ending its subscription to RefWorks on Dec. 31, 2016. If you wish to retain your records you will need to export your citations to another bibliographic software tool prior to that date,” an Oct. 6 statement from the U of C libraries’ website reads. “The recommended date for completion of your export is Dec. 1.”


Justin Quaintance

RefWorks allows users to drag and drop citations directly into essays while keeping them stored online in a personal database. Monitoring statistics show the program is primarily used by students in the social sciences, followed by medicine and science students.

According to U of C vice-provost Libraries and Cultural Resources Tom Hickerson, the main reason for cancelling the RefWorks subscription is the software’s exponential rise in cost and the decreasing value of the Canadian dollar.

Hickerson said the price of RefWorks has increased 87 per cent in the last eight years — more than 10 per cent a year.

“We first bought RefWorks in 2008 and the cost in Canadian dollars was $14,000,” Hickerson said. “The cost eight years later [is] $26,000 in Canadian dollars. No business [should get] to go around and charge 10 per cent more every year.”

Hickerson added that the U of C’s libraries have gotten extra support from the provost’s office in an attempt to alleviate the symptoms of the failing Canadian dollar, which has dropped as much as 20 per cent in its purchasing value.

Before deciding to cancel RefWorks, the Libraries and Cultural Resources department also went to the U of C Students’ Union to ask for their support.

“We talked to them about this [cancellation] and they chose not to fund it,” Hickerson said.

The availability of other packages was the final factor in dropping the service, said Hickerson. He explained that for every 1,000 titles that come in a RefWorks package, only 181 are considered “highly-used” by students.

For students or faculty who currently use RefWorks, the Libraries and Cultural Resources department suggests alternative programs such as Endnote, Mendeley or Zotero instead.

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