Reference Management


A reference is the mention of another publication – book, journal, article, etc. An item reference documents the publications that provide authoritative information, which helps to establish the validity of the item. The publications referenced help experts determine whether the item is accurate. The very subject-matter domain of the reference (e.g. accounting, anatomy, etc.) can also contribute to an item’s validity.

The Current State

Many assessment organizations keep no item reference information. Others leave the reference to the item writer’s discretion. In either case, it is a rare assessment organization that uses anything more than unformatted text to keep references. And that’s just items. Other elements that contribute to item validity such as images and videos seem never to have reference information.


You can add references to any element that contributes to accurate measurement. At this time that includes the item itself and exhibits used in items: images and video, for example.

An unlimited number of references can be applied to items or exhibits, and each reference can be one of two types: an unapproved reference or an approved reference.

An unapproved reference is the unformatted textual note, familiar to many in the industry, plus an optional attachment, such as an image, PDF or Word document.

An approved reference is an authoritative work catalogued in Pro!’s reference library. Only users with the proper authorization can add authoritative works to the reference library. (At Strasz we refer to a user authorized to make changes to the reference library as the reference librarian.) To add an approved reference to the reference library requires the entry of a few data elements, namely, the reference type, title, and citation. There are optional data elements, too: edition, author, publisher, copyright year, and ISBN. The reference librarian configures the format of the citation, which the item writer completes when applying the approved reference. The citation for an approved reference of type book, for example, might require the starting and ending page numbers. However, the citation for a tax regulation might require the section, paragraph, and optional article number. To meet the broadest needs of the assessment industry, a citation can have an unlimited number of parts (e.g. chapter, section, page). Each part can be optional or mandatory and have one of the following data entry formats: numeric, text, alpha, alphanumeric, or constant. The item writer’s entries in a citation are validated to ensure the data entered in each part complies with the reference librarian’s intention.

Approved references have a status: active or retired. Item writers can apply only active approved references.

Finding Items that Use a Reference

Pro! has powerful search features for locating items that use a reference. A search can identify items using an approved or unapproved reference, or items lacking a reference entirely. In addition, the search can be limited to only active references or can include inactive references.

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