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Section 2 Becoming a Researcher/Scholar / Chapter 4 Effective Research

Effective doctoral learners can use technology to their advantage by organizing and managing their material in a digital format.

7. Online Library Resources


A dissertation is an enormous undertaking that requires doctoral learners to gather, organize, and analyze large amounts of information. According to Winston and Fields (2003), “Although, preparing doctoral students for completing their dissertations is challenging in an on-campus program, it is even more difficult in an Internet-based distance education curriculum” (p. 161). At some point the load of resources will be too difficult to manage and learners will need to develop a system of organization that will help with the retrieval of important data. A learner can print out all of the documents, but that approach could become very costly, as well as cumbersome as the stacks of paper begin to surpass the learner’s height. Technology is a fancy word for organization. Effective doctoral learners can use technology to their advantage by organizing and managing their material in a digital format. Using technology will reduce costs, space issues, and stress. There are a couple of programs available through the GCU Library that assist doctoral learners in this regard.



RefWorks is an online resource that allows doctoral learners to create an account to track citations collected from databases during the research process. It is an effective organization tool that stores the reference material in one manageable file or several working files. There are several other benefits to using RefWorks, such as its ability to create bibliographies and works cited pages as well as its option to display citations in various formats, such as APA. “It includes a plug in called Write-n-Cite that can be used with Microsoft Word to easily insert citations and automatically generate a bibliography for content cited in a paper” (Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching, n.d.b.). Reference materials stored in other bibliographic management software programs, such as EndNote and Zotero can be imported. Also, users can continue to use RefWorks even after they have graduated from GCU or are no longer affiliated with the institution. Learners can create an account on the GCU Library website. The GCU Library offers a webinar on how to use this resource.



Write-n-Cite is an excellent formatting tool doctoral learners can use when they are ready to insert citations into their narrative and compile their references and/or bibliography. Write-n-Cite is located within the RefWorks Tools menu, and the user must sync their RefWorks database to the Write-n-Cite program. One of the important features offered is the ability to use this program in Word without an active Internet connection. For additional information about the tool, please visit the help files found in RefWorks, GCU Library webinars, or contact the library directly for additional help.