Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bibiliography

There was another reason for all this time researching new file management tools -- a desperate need for a better way to handle bibliographies. MS Word has a nice, very formal bibliographical database built in, but it has some key drawbacks -- namely you can't link the bibliographical record to the actual data (if it is digitalised) and the process is far from automatic. Every piece of bibliographic data needs to be typed in.

There seems to be a fair amount of recognition and discussion of the problem. But, the need to double dip -- to create two sets of bibliographic records, one for cataloguing and referencing web pages, pdfs, downloaded word files, digital books etc and the master list you create on Word is frustrating, not to mention time consuming.

Even OneNote falls down on this one, although I noted others have been asking MS to introduce this to the application, so fingers crossed. (And 'Endnote' does not interest me.)

For now, I have settled on a Firefox browser extension, Zotero. I don't use Firefox on a regular basis, so I almost view it as a "Zotero program", rather than a Firefox add-on but it almost nearly does the job.

The brilliant aspect of Zotero is that, via a Word plug in, I can send bibliographic information from Zotero to word. There is still a degree of double dipping and redundancy here (especially as I have to travel via Firefox (why can't I just do this from OneNote!), but it is so much better than before.

There seem to be some flaws still, although it is early days, so I may not have worked out the right 'fix'. But, I am having trouble entering the 'accessed' time for webpages etc that I have accessed in the past and now want to enter into Zotero to link to/ create a bibliographic record. The time of access is important, and while I can get the date in correctly, the time constantly revers to 12:00:00. Annoying.

Plus, Zotero tantalisingly promises to try to automatically fill in pdf bibliographic information from the web (much as iTunes tries to fill in the data for your own music). The example it offers seems to cover a lot of Shakespeare. Not my area of research and to date most of Zotero's efforts in this department have come back with the WRONG bibliographic data. Which, of course, only reinforces the need to triple check everything.

Still, fingers crossed, there are moves afoot to overcome these headaches, especially the double dipping needed, and more developments are in the works.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

But, I am having trouble entering the 'accessed' time for webpages etc that I have accessed in the past and now want to enter into Zotero to link to/ create a bibliographic record.

Enter the date as something like
"2009-04-07 13:20:00". I suppose that it'd be nice to have more intuitive date/time input, though.

try to automatically fill in pdf bibliographic information from the web (much as iTunes tries to fill in the data for your own music). The example it offers seems to cover a lot of Shakespeare. Not my area of research and to date most of Zotero's efforts in this department have come back with the WRONG bibliographic data. Which, of course, only reinforces the need to triple check everything.

I don't have too many PDFs that lack metadata, so I haven't played with this much. I agree it leaves a bit to be desired, but it does work with more than Shakespeare. If your PDFs have DOI entries, this should improve in the near term. It may be valuable to provide examples of failing PDFs to Zotero's developers for them to improve the tool.