A Cite for Sore Eyes

A picture of books For most of my academic career, my research and citation model has been relatively low-tech: I’ve simply typed my citations into Word documents (or sometimes found a research assistant to type them for me). And sometimes I paste in common sources from the footnotes in my older articles. That’s it. It’s pretty basic — not quite writing-it-out-longhand, but probably not a particularly effective method, given advances in technology.

After recently conversations with colleagues who seem enamored of one or more of the citation-management programs available, I’m dipping my toe into this area. I’m also wondering how widely used these programs are. Some law library and other websites have collected links and information on some of the available programs, or offer specific tips on how to use them. I’m still a neophyte, but some of these programs look intriguing — provided I can figure out how to use them.

For this poll, please indicate whether you use Zotero, RefWorks, Mendeley, EndNote, or some other citation-management program in your own legal scholarship. And please weigh in in comments with any thoughts on the merits of your own prefered system.

[poll id=”4″]

(Image: Wikicommons)

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7 Responses

  1. Cynthia L. says:

    I like JabRef. It’s free. It is made to hook in with LaTeX though, which I know is a bit of a turn-off for many.

  2. Silly question – what is LaTeX, and why do people not like it?

  3. Cynthia L. says:

    LaTeX is a markup style editor, which is to say, more like HTML, and less like Word. Word, and most other editors these days, are WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”).

    It’s a pain in many ways. It’s very like computer programming–you edit the code, then you have to compile, the compiler gives you a bunch of errors saying where you missed a semicolon etc etc.

    That said, it produces exceptionally tasteful and lovely documents. It is also good if you need macro capability, for example you are writing a whole book and you want to be able to do very flexible whole-document substitutions or reformatting.

    Since LaTeX was invented, some of its benefits have been incorporated into Word, for example the “styles” templates that let you, for example, change the formatting of every single sub-section title in your whole paper in one shot rather than selecting and reformatting each one. But it is still commonly used among computer scientists in academia, and considered something of a rite of passage for writing/formatting a dissertation.

    Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LaTeX

  4. Cynthia L. says:

    I think it is commonly used in any field that uses a lot of equations and variables with subscripts and subscripts of subscripts etc. You can see on the wikipedia page how it does that. This is another area where Word is catching up. It used to not be possible to do those things in Word, but now it has an equation editor.

  5. Hmm. LaTeX sounds like a fun tool, but probably not for me. I’m hoping to spend less time tinkering with citations, not more.

    But if I ever need to put in an equation, I’ll keep it in mind. 🙂

  6. I have used Refworks and Citation 9 interchangeably for the last 6 or 7 years. I rely heavily on Citation 9 when doing work in Canadian law, since it is the only citation software I found that did McGill Guide notes. (Maybe there is something else that does McGill Guide by now, but I haven’t bothered to look since this works fairly well). Refworks is a much more broad-based bibliographic program and has many capacities, such as web page capture, custom sorting, and data sharing. In order to get maximum utility out of Refworks, I try to enter every book or article I read into the database along with a brief note. This is great for when you’re writing and recall something you read months earlier–it’s all there, waiting to be cited.

  7. Latex has multiple options for creating documents with proper template format.Also you can create ebooks and other text file.It is easy and fast.Also there are number of softwares available in the market,but it is reliable and user friendly.