I could have done with an organiser of my reference material when I was at University in the 90s. However, at that time, computers and the online world were unsophisticated, and one still had little option but to go to a dead tree library to acquire tracts of text and reference material, which one would laboriously photocopy or take notes from, which would later be stored in a file somewhere and possibly forgotten about for years. I only cleared out my Linguistics references and photocopied articles about 2 years ago, and yet its been more than a decade since I withdrew from my PhD studies.
I’ve been contemplating doing some postgrad work in a different field (Mental Health Nursing). Imagine my delight when I discovered some incredible tools for acquiring and storing references, bibliographies and actual journal articles (this latter, of course, is only available where the full text is available online in any case).
The first of this kind I discovered a couple of years ago was Reference Miner, from SonnySoftware. Its a freeware tool for getting references and abstracts of articles. Very handy, but limited in application. A great starting point, but you still need to access the actual websites, or even the dead tree journals, to get full text.
Also from SonnySoftware is Bookends. Its a full program which stores all your references and incorporates a search tool similar to (but more extensive than) Reference Miner. Once you have the references you need, you can send them to a Bibliography window, and they will be formatted, ready for copy/pasting to your essay/article/thesis. Bookends includes a Word Addin, which I have not tested. I’m running a 30 day trial at the moment and will look more closely at that during the next days.
From ThirdStreetSoftware comes Sente. Its very expensive and does much the same job as Bookends. Unfortunately I downloaded it 3 years ago, never used it, and lost my trial period without so much as an acquired reference. It looks as if it might be much more sophisticated than Bookends, but I have no basis for comparison. It’s becoming very popular amongst those in need of these kinds of tools. It communicates with Word, like Bookends. They both communicate with Mellel, an alternative Word Processor for MacOSX.
Lastly, but most certainly not least, comes Papers. Its still in development but is a beautifully designed piece of software which, after a few days of trial, I decided was worth the very small $AU32.50 registration fee. It’s got the same appearance, pretty much, as iTunes, and it accesses Pubmed, specifically (very useful for those of us contemplating health related studies). It can send the references to Bookends (Sente can import Papers references but I cannot see a direct export to Sente from Papers) and all in all its a stunning piece of work.
Having these kinds of tools at one’s disposal makes enrolling later this year much more likely than ever.