This week I was working on another book assignment when I was reminded of why I love my reference management software, EndNote.  Although I jumped on board pretty early in this project, there were about 60 references that were already collected.  But, they were “loosely” formatted — meaning that they weren’t complete (e.g., missing volume, issue, or page numbers).  And I know if I didn’t get a handle on these references now it would just be one more thing I’d need to do anyway — so why not now when the project is in its early stages.

So, I opted to just sit down and find all the references that were mentioned. And it took about three hours two find these references using Google Scholar and ScienceDirect (I used ScienceDirect as a backup for articles that I couldn’t find using Google Scholar, which was infrequently).  Now three hours may sound like a lot of time.  But, there was a time when many people (including myself) can recall, before the days of the World Wide Web, when you had to manually format your own bibliography — on a typewriter no less.  What

And I’m one of those people who attended college when EndNote was around.  But my school didn’t have a license for this product, and so I was spending a tremendous amount of time trying to remember the rules of how to write a bibliography for books and journal articles.  Oh, the pains!  So, imagine my joy when I started working as a freelance researcher and started using EndNote.

When I think of the few hours it took me to plug in some information and have a database pull and export my citation directly into EndNote, it’s a huge time saver.  Google Scholar is a great database to use and it’s easy too.  For example, if I was looking for articles written by a particular author in 2011 then I’d type in author: type in the name in Google Scholar (see below).

Then I’d select the year because that would help narrow my results, and the first result was actually the correct citation (see below).

Although I mainly use Google Scholar to import references into EndNote, I ended up using ScienceDirect when I wasn’t able to find a particular article.  ScienceDirect is particularly useful when you have information such as the volume and issue numbers.

Both Google Scholar and ScienceDirect allows you to easily export citations into your library.  In Google Scholar, you need to setup your preferences:

1. Click “Scholar Preferences”

2. Scroll down to “Bibliography Manager” and select “RefMan”

3. Click “Save Preferences”

And afterward I sync my EndNote library with my EndNote Web account to back up my references and share certain references with others.  EndNote has been the only reference management system that I’ve used.  While there are many other types of reference assistants, I don’t have any experience using them to make a comparison with EndNote.  Recently, Thomson Reuters released a new version, EndNote X5, which has new features such as viewing and annotating PDF files, adding and transferring file attachments to the Web among other things.  I’m excited about these upgrade features.

What reference manager do you use?