Saturday, 19 June 2010

a wealth of reference management

There's a lot going on in the field of reference management tools - especially here in Cambridge.

Reference management tools include all kinds of systems which help you organise references you have found, store the papers they refer to and perhaps annotate them, share the citations with others, cite papers in your own works, and so on.  There are some big players in this area - the first two which spring to mind for me are Zotero and Mendeley. Zotero is a Firefox plugin, so it sits within your browsing experience; Mendeley is a website and a downloadable tool, and makes a big effort to connect you to others and recommend other works - the " of scholarly work". Both are popular with researchers at the University of Cambridge.

I realised this week that I now know of at least four reference management tools just originating here in Cambridge:

  • Papers. This is Mac software from Mekentosj, and has recently won an award
  • iCite. Like Zotero, this is another Firefox plugin
  • PaperPile, an open source system (GPL) from the EBI, which was first written for Linux
  • qiqqa, a somewhat unpronouncable name for a Windows application. 
It's great to see the local entrepreneurial spirit coming into play in the academic sphere!
    These are a tiny fraction of the world of reference management. It's interesting to note that the market can support so many tools. Each has special features which will appeal more to some users than others; some are particularly well suited to one discipline, with better support for their paper types and bibliographic databases. Of course, it's possible to combine two or more tools as part of your scholarly workflows, to get the best bits of each...

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