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.

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).