Launching RefME Institute at ALA San Francisco

Since we launched back in October (has it really only been 9 months?) we’ve helped over 800,000 users discover that citations don’t have to be painful.

That’s why the theme of our RefME Institution launch at the American Library Association Conference in San Francisco is “I Love Citations”. We really do, and we believe that with RefME you’ll soon learn to love them too!

But what, might you ask, is RefME Institute? Simply put, it’s a way to give some clear, relevant and real-time feedback to librarians at schools, colleges and universities on what their students are actually reading and citing, so they can make better decisions about what books to buy and how to manage their resources.

Libraries spend millions every year on books, without much data on which ones are actually the most useful. After all, you can take a book out, only to realise it’s not really that relevant to your essay after all. Remember staring in frustration at endless copies of one book while having to spend your beer and takeaway money on another of which there was only one copy that someone else never returned? That’s the kind of thing that we want to help fix.

The other problem institutions have is that they are stuck paying hefty licence fees for reference management software packages that are not very user-friendly or efficient.  So our modest ambition is for every student on the planet (all 300+ million of them) to have access to an awesome citation tool that’s intuitive, reliable, accurate, and, yes, fun. We created RefME because, like every student who ever had to write an essay, we got frustrated with how difficult and complicated it was to write references and compile a bibliography. So now you can scan book barcodes with your phone and add them to your bibliography in one click. It’s all synced to the cloud, and we’ve got over 7500 citation styles covered, including all the most popular ones like Harvard, APA, MLA and Chicago.

But instead of charging for a licence, we only take a small one-of setup fee to cover costs, and we’re even waiving that for anybody who signs up at ALA. It’s like those American infomercials we all love. “we’re so confident that you’ll love the product that we want you to try it, no strings attached!”.

We know that there’s something good about RefME because it’s overtaken Spotify and eBay in the download charts and it has grown faster than Twitter and Pinterest did in their first year. As we fast approach the 1 million user mark, we’re taking a leaf out of Google’s book, focusing on the power of vertical search and creating a database of crowd-sourced, validated knowledge with real insight into the actual impact of research. Aside from feeding this back to universities so they can better provide for their student’s needs, we see a bright future where we can recommend the most relevant content for researchers without them even having to search for it.

So if you’re around in San Francisco over the next few days, come and say hello, or even if you’re not there in person, do register your interest in our RefME Institute page and we’ll send you a handy information pack!

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