After 3 years of graduate school I finally took the time to explore different types of bibliographic software. It seems they all have strengths and weaknesses: Endnote, Refworks, Sente, Zotero, Bookends, and many more. Some of them are free, some of them allow you to attach and annotate documents, some allow for 1000s of bibliographic formats … the list goes on and on. Sometimes too many options is worse than one or two. I didn’t have the time or the patience to try out each one and find the best fit, so I settled.
I started with a simple good search “best bibliographic software for mac” and came up with several blogs and websites that listed the top 5 or 10 and the different strengths of each. In the end everyone seemed to agree that other than a few differences here and there, they all basically did the same thing. Its merely a matter of personal preference. Bibliographic software is one of those computer programs that does way more than the average person actually needs.
After about an hour of exploring online I eventually settled for Endnote. I’d heard good things about Endnote in the past but never really bought into it considering it costs over $100. It turns out, as a graduate student we have access to Endnote Web for free. I explored the web edition a bit, looked up a couple of tutorials on youtube, and found it was pretty intuitive and self explanatory. I can attach pdfs, look up references through library of congress database, and export references directly from the school library website. Furthermore, it’s all online so I don’t have to worry about a harddrive crashing or taking up too much memory and I can export it to another bibliographic software program later if needed. I can add keywords, tags, and notes, and it works fairly seamlessly with Microsoft Word and Apple Pages. I’ve decided to try it out for my next paper and see how it works. My hope is to be able to build a database to make it easier to organize my information when I start writing articles and preparing for the qualifying exams.
Next I need to look into Mind Mapping software and techniques, a good rss feed reader, and the pros and cons of Word vs. Pages.