Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Thing 14 - Organising references

Despite a first degree in History and a Masters in Librarianship, I’ve never used any referencing tools to help me with my work. I was introduced to Endnote last year during my MA as part of a computing skills module, but I found it quite difficult to use and never bothered with it further. This was partly because I didn’t have it on my laptop, and since I do almost all my work on there, this wasn’t much use.

When I was writing my Masters dissertation, like Isla, the author of Thing 14, I did all my referencing and compiled my bibliography myself. I didn’t find this too difficult – I’m very pedantic and trust myself to spot mistakes and follow a required style. Therefore I wasn’t sure if I would actually make use of any referencing tools. Also, I have no need of them at the moment. I’ve finished my MA and have no more essays to write. However, I decided to take a quick look at these tools, as they will be handy to know about if I ever get a job in an academic library and need to make students aware of them.

I’ve heard good things about Zotero but the fact that it needed a Firefox plugin put me off. I used to use Firefox but I switched to Chrome recently and didn’t want to go back to using a different browser just for this tool. However, I found out from Stephen Ayre’s blog that a beta version is now available as a standalone package (http://www.zotero.org/support/3.0) so this is reassuring.

I watched the introductory video and I have to say Zotero looks easy to use. I like how it updates over different locations so you can access your references wherever you are. I imagine this would appeal to students who do work on their home computer as well as at university. I also liked the function of adding notes and quotations to individual records. I used to write all my notes on random bits of paper and was then faced with the task of keeping them all in order, but this seems like a much more convenient way.

I watched the introductory video to Mendeley and liked the look of it too. I thought it seemed similar to Zotero in many ways. I’m not sure which one I would use – I think if I am ever in a position to use one of these tools I will investigate them both in a bit more detail before choosing one to download. I definitely want to pick one and stick with it rather than messing about with more than one.

I had a quick look at this and it seems interesting, but I already have a delicious account so don’t think I will bother with this.

I’m actually quite glad I had a look at these tools, as they do look quite useful and I would almost certainly use one of them in the future. Though they aren’t directly related to my life or work at the moment, they may well be in the future and at least I’ve got a bit of a head start.

1 comment:

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