Reference managers are today a common tool for research and writing. These platforms are the equivalent of personal libraries in modern research, and training in their proper use should figure in any academic writing program. That said, there is a significant learning curve to curation, and “over the shoulder” tutoring of novice users is cumbersome, and often annoying to both instructor and student. Juris-M, a variant of the well known Zotero reference manager, offers a feature for streamlined supervision of bibliography management. This post explains how it works.

The concept is simple. Juris-M, like Zotero, supports group libraries. If the references in a student writing project are stored in a library shared with the instructor, it is a straightforward matter to monitor activity there and offer advice on content and organization. In practice, of course, students frequently cite from their personal library, particularly in the early stages of experience with the system. Attempts to impose consistency are hampered by the fact that such “missing” cites are completely invisible to the instructor. In Juris-M, a student document can be “bound” to a shared library, so that all references that it contains are automatically shunted to the shared library—and problem solved.

To set this up, begin by creating a group library to be shared between instructor and student. In the client, select New Group under the group library icon.

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In the browser view that opens, give the group a name.

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After creating the library, be sure that only group members can view the content, and that all group members have editing privileges.

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After saving the settings, click on the Members Settings link, and invite the other member (or members) to the group. They will be sent an invitation mail with instructions on how to proceed at their end.

Next, open Juris-M and sync. The group library should appear in the left-hand listing. Then open the document, visit Document Preferences, and select the Project Name tab. Click on the button showing No group selected and select the group. Citations in the document will automatically refresh, and the items cited in it should appear in the group library.

If the student’s copy of Juris-M is set to sync automatically, citations should appear in the shared library automatically as writing and editing proceeds. If duplicate references appear in the shared library, be sure to merge rather than delete them.

And that’s it. Sharing document references in this way has proven very beneficial in our writing programs in the Law Department at Nagoya University. If you have questions or suggestions. please feel free to contact us via the Juris-M support lists.