An app which allows students to sort their essay references in seconds is making waves across universities.
RefME is an online platform which lets you create a citation in one click, saving hours of formatting. It lets you cite anything online, including newspapers, books and videos, just from the URL of the webpage, while the RefME app uses your smartphone camera to scan the barcode of a journal or book you want to cite and, voila, the reference is yours.
Launched last September, RefME already has 800,000 registered users. Co-founder and CEO Tom Hatton says the platform can gain as many as 30,000 users in a single day as word gets out among students of a university.
But it isn't just students who are showing an interesting in the platform, RefME has received £2.7 million backing from GEMs Education, the largest private education company in the world. They want to encourage more schoolchildren to use the app, as pupils are now increasingly having to reference too.
‘We’ve identified 150-200 million kids around the world who cite,’ said Hatton.
The platform also does more than create references – RefME collects information about what people cite, making a map of the data. This means it can give you recommendations based on what other people who used that same citation went on to find, something Hatton calls ‘removing the search from research’.
The company has been careful to make sure the information taken from each website makes the perfect citation, formatted exactly as needed. RefME currently offers over 7000 referencing styles, leaving students flexible to the demands of lecturers.
‘Something we’re very careful of is that if our product fails then students actually can lose marks or even have their essay scrapped for incorrectly referencing,’ said Hatton.
But with many universities giving extra marks for correct referencing, could the app be considered as encouraging laziness among students?
‘No not at all,’ said Hatton. ‘We want to make sure people get that validating the knowledge and sources you talk about is very important. Knowing where to put a comma or a full stop is a waste of your time.’
‘Reference management tools have existed, we just brought it to the 21st century,’ said Hatton.