Reference managers: is there really an inexpensive solution?

Navigating the ocean of scientific writing in the last years, two issues of ‘the art of writing a scientific paper’ bothered me most: word processors and reference managers. The first issue was solved after I was introduced to the wonders of Scrivener. On the other hand reference managers are still an open wound.

Advertisements

I am currently reconsidering using Papers3 any further as I have had major issues with it. Namely, lost attachments and notes even after I corrected them manually.

Also, most importantly, the auto-match function is quite a mess: sometimes filling in the wrong volumes, articles, and page numbers. Always double check once you complete your references.

[under construction…]

I work in the field of Social Sciences where Statistics and Sociology meet. Sometimes Geography joins the party too. This means that I have a lot of tables, graphs, and words. Navigating the ocean of scientific writing in the last years, two issues of ‘the art of writing a scientific paper’ bothered me most: word processors and reference managers. The first issue was solved after I was introduced to the wonders of Scrivener: I couldn’t ask for anything better for my PhD thesis and for managing projects. Reference management is still an open wound. I went through the three stages of reference management so far: anger, illumination, abandonment. I tried out several free reference managers, all of them with issues I could not and would not want to bear with (starting to pay not being an option for me). The expensive (and obsolete) office-provided reference manager was even worse than the free version: manually entering most of my articles was torture and an incredible loss of time I did not want. Is there a solution?I mostly use a combination of Scrivener (composition), Latex (graphs and tables management) and Word (I don’t like it but it has a very good tracking system for changes), thus my ideal reference manager needs to work with all three of them. Papers 2 did and made me happy: then OS X Yosemite came and inline citation in Scrivener (and TextEdit and TexShop) ended. After writing to Scrivener customer support, which by the way was totally unaware of the problem, I found out that this was a ‘side effect’ of the last Mac update, mostly a Papers 2 problem and that they are not going to solve it (see support.mekentosj). Duh! Abandonment.
I have found my temporary solution in the Papers 3 trial version, but has two major problems: lost attachments and wrong matching.

I definitely want to check out more reference managers in the future, time allowing (namely Sente and Bookends).

 

Author: acarioli

is a PostDoc at the Geography and Environment department of the University of Southampton, WorldPop project team. She is also affiliated researcher at CED, UAB and Dondena Centre. Her interests include spatial econometrics and modeling, bayesian methods, machine learning processes, forecasting, micro-data simulation, and data visualization. Demo-traveler, Mac enthusiast, R zealot and Rladies member.