Design And Implementation Of A Computerized Reference Management System

Computer Science Project Material with Source Code Included

Computer Science Project Material with Source Code Included


The paper examines the design and implementation of a computerized reference management system. The research project was carried out to solve the referencing/plagiarism problem students undertaking their research projects in universities, polytechnics and colleges of education face. The research project covered four (4) major referencing styles namely; MLA, APA, HARVARD and CHICAGO.

The researcher aimed at building a user friendly system where students can easily enter information sources for accurate, fast citations using the appropriate referencing style approved by their institutions. The implementation of the system was achieved using PHP and MYSQL programming languages.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Referencing simply refers to the process of citing or documenting the sources of quotes, theories, ideas, illustrations and diagrams used in writing a university research paper, essay, article, assignments etc (Archibong, 2014). Referencing is an important task in the research writing process, as acknowledgements and other necessary credits need to be given to sources or authors where information is gotten from.

The function of references is to allow the reader to identify the source of an idea or locate a quotation. They should therefore be clear and consistent, and poor presentation may be penalized.

References should be numbered in the text and written out in full at the bottom of the page as footnotes (Chernin, 1988).

You should reference every piece of evidence you use and should also reference key ideas and approaches drawn from the secondary literature.

Footnotes are not included in the word count, but you must not include any material other than references to secondary or primary sources. Any written material should go in the main body of the essay or dissertation. You should also always reference the book/article/source/lecturein which YOU discovered the information. Copying out someone else footnotes is plagiarism (Laurens, 2009).

Reference management software, citation management software or personal bibliographic management software is software for scholars and authors to use for recording and utilising bibliographic citations (Enrico,2013). Once a citation has been recorded, it can be used time and again in generating bibliographies, such as lists of references in scholarly books, articles and essays. The development of reference management packages has been driven by the rapid expansion of scientific literature.

These software packages normally consist of a database in which full bibliographic references can be entered, plus a system for generating selective lists of articles in the different formats required by publishers and scholarly journals. Modern reference management packages can usually be integrated with word processors so that a reference list in the appropriate format is produced automatically as an article is written, reducing the risk that a cited source is not included in the reference list. They will also have a facility for importing the details of publications from bibliographic databases.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

In recent years, the issue of plagiarism has been a dominant concern for students especially in higher institutions of learning (Neville, 2007). Some students in Nigerian Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of education find it difficult to properly reference a source of information with appropriate referencing styles approved by their institutions. However, there can be a fine line between plagiarism and poor referencing practice, and learner development and support units in further and higher education institutions report that students often struggle to understand, not just the ‘how-to’, but the ‘when to’ and ‘why’ aspects of referencing.

Referencing sources in academic writing is such an integral part of academic writing that academic practitioners do not always give it the central attention it deserves. According to Ang©lil-Carter (2000), some students see referencing or citations as a formality, hence they do not take it seriously.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of the study is to design and implement a computerized reference management system. Specific objectives of the study are:

  1. To design a system that will take up citation projects and store information sources in a secured manner.
  2. To design a system that will enable users to reference quickly and accurately with Modern Language Association (MLA) format.
  3. To design a system that will enable users to reference quickly and accurately reference with American Psychological Association (APA) format.
  4. To design a system that will enable users to reference quickly and accurately using the Harvard referencing style.
  5. To design a system that will enable users to reference quickly and accurately using the Chicago referencing style.

Screen Shots Of The Application

1.4 Significance of the Study

The study will aid students in properly referencing or citing information when writing any academic paper.

The study will contribute to the body of knowledge as it is relatively new. Student researchers, who find the topic interesting, will use the paper as a guide in developing other referencing systems.

1.5 Scope of the Study

The study is limited to the design and implementation of a computerized reference management system, using PHP and MYSQL programming languages. The implementation will cover four (4) major referencing/citation styles namely: MLA, APA, CHICAGO and HARVARD.

1.6 Limitation of the Study

Financial and time constraints were the major limitations to the study. Financial obligations to get necessary software for the design aspect of the project were a bit challenging.

Combining the research project with lectures was also stressful on the researcher.

1.7 Definition of Terms


Is a relation between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another object.

Reference Management System:

Reference management software, citation management software or personal bibliographic management software is software for scholars and authors to use for recording and utilising bibliographic citations (references).


Modern Language Association


American Psychological Association


A set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network; a complex whole.

Academic Paper:

A research paper usually written at tertiary institution.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.0 Introduction

This chapter focuses on summary, conclusion and recommendations.

Here, the entire summary of the research from the problem stage to the implementation stage, the relevant conclusion and recommendations are discussed.

5.1 Constraints of the Study

The problems encountered during the course of carrying out this research project include:

1. Time:

Time for the research project was too short coupled with researcher’s academic time table.

2. Fund:

There was limited fund to take care of the research properly in terms of transportation and other expenses especially when visiting attraction sites.

3. Research Materials:

Lack of access to research materials on the topic in the school library and even public libraries were also major constraint in the cause of this project.

4. Reference System:

Access to existing referencing system pose a great challenge as most online materials are has no software develop on this topic except a written documentation on this domain.

5.2 Summary

Implementation of an online and offline referencing system has been created.

The existing method of reading reference material on its book or online has been eliminated. Where all the referencing types has been full automated by the system. The new system would be very easy to use because of its accuracy and reliability. Information about each referencing style and type and its examples are recorded for easy understanding.

5.3 Conclusion

Referencing is a standardized method of formatting the information sources you have used in your assignments or written work (usq, 2016). Any given referencing style serves two purposes:

  1. Acknowledges the source
  2. Allows the reader to trace the source.

Referencing system is a system that’s takes care of every reference style by providing the user with a form to add his/her source details, the system automates it and display his reference using the standard format.

5.4 Recommendations

Having designed, tested and implemented the new system, the following must be put in place to fully achieve the objective of which the software is designed.

i. Maintenance:

The system needs to be maintained. This implies that any fault detected should be reported to the programmer for correction at any point in time.

ii. Internet Connection:

The system needs to be connected to the internet before the user can access the features of the software online else it can be deployed ofline using a remote server(local server: WAMP, XAMP, MANP e.t.c).

iii. Research:

More research should be conducted on the topic to assess it effectively.

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