It’s midsummer now and that means you might finally be recovering from finals week. With tests, papers, projects, and presentations flying at you it can be hard to keep track of everything, but we at the Dewey Graduate Library are here to give you all the help we can to push through the next time finals time rears its ugly head. Today, we bring you one of the most wonderful inventions known to academics; citation management software. One of the most tedious aspects of writing a paper is keeping track of your sources and making up a bibliography at the end. For those of you who don’t know, citation management software is a tool that can keep track of your references for you, and even generate citations and bibliographic entries for you!
So let’s explore some of the options. First and foremost, the university libraries have recently gained access to EndNoteWeb, an incredibly popular program for managing your bibliographic information. Unfortunately, it can also be a bit out of a student’s price range. Thanks to Web of Science, you can now access EndNote for free from anywhere! Just log in to the Web of Science database through the library portal and click on the EndNote tab right at the top of the page.
With EndNote you can find, create, and store bibliographic information for later use. You can export citations directly from the library’s databases into EndNote, search databases within EndNote itself, or even enter them manually. This software is particularly useful because it can do things other citation programs can’t, such as searching a library’s database to pull the citation for books instead of just online articles. Just select ‘online search’ under the collect tab, pick your database, and enter your search terms. It will bring up a bibliographic record for anything matching your search, and you can even edit the record before saving it to your library. All of these citations can be saved to your EndNote library and used again and again. For more information on EndNote and its features, you can look at our library guide , or look at EndNote’s website yourself.
The library also provides a great list of free citation management programs that don’t require affiliation with the university to use. Not all of these allow you to create your own libraries of easily retrievable sources, but they can be used to generate citations. Out of everything on this list, my favorite has to be Zotero. It’s free, it’s easy to use, and it can be used to store references for later. It’s saved my life on more than one paper, so I highly recommend it. The best part about it is that you can download a standalone program, or a Firefox plugin. The plugin is the best part. When browsing articles using firefox, a handy little icon appears next to the web address bar that you can use to pull all the bibliographic information available on the page AND a pdf/copy of the web page right into your Zotero library. If you want more information on Zotero, why not check out our library guide, and then try it out for yourself?
All this software is great, but software is no substitute for a style guide. Whether it’s MLA, APA, or any other citation style, make sure you check the results the software generates against the appropriate style guide. If the program pulls a citation from a website with bad information you’ll get a bad citation, and nobody wants that. The style guides can be found at any of the university library reference desks. If you just need a quick example for a resource, you can also check out citationfox through the library website. Citationfox provides style examples for APA and MLA formats. And as always, if you need any more help, don’t hesitate to come in and see us at the reference desk.
Blog post created by Alex Hoag
image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/18/%22Citation_needed%22.jpg