Reference Management Software is the topic this week.
Working in my particular business domain, you rarely come across an occassion when you need to cite an article, or book, in your day-to-day activities. My first assignment back in academia was interesting in that although I considered myself to be fluent in the software program Word, I had no idea how the citations and bibliography section actually worked.
After painstakingly typing and re-typing many many references manually, I finally clicked on a link in my university library about referencing sofware. My first attempt was with RefWorks. I could find an article through the online library, click a button and presto, instant bibliography! Brilliant I though….now how do I get it into my Word document and use it on both my mac laptop and window’s pc at home??? Not as easy as I though it was going to be, and by the way, when you leave the Uni, you also lose your access to Refworks….not a good start!
I decided before I invested any more time into re-copying or manually reproducing my existing references, that I would compare existing packages (both free and paid) to see which could offer me long term value. I set out a list of criteria which included items such as, ‘institution independent‘ – I wanted to be able to continue to use it after I left my Uni, ‘future proof‘ – I didnt want to be limited to a cap on the number of references, or size of database as advertised in some ‘free’ packages, ‘collaboration‘ – looking to the future as a researcher, I wanted to ensure that I could share my references and project materials with other colleagues, and finally, it had to work ‘across all my platforms‘!
Although there were a few that compared closely, I settled on EndNote. Even though it is a paid software package, I looked at the cost of it as a ‘less-hassel, future proof, 10-movie priced investment’. It meets almost all of my requirements (could be easier to transfer files between platforms in instances when no internet access is available) and then some, like being able to attach my PDF document directly to my reference, give the reference a ranking and remind myself when I have already read a particular reference.
682 references later…I think I’ve gotten my money’s worth!