A work on a scientific paper most often includes stimulative brain activities and the excitement of research itself and finally, the discovery of new ideas by which we can be a sort of interventionists in the world that surrounds us. Besides the creative part, the process of making a scientific paper includes activities which are not that exciting or creative – and this part often involves the exhaustive hunt for reference material and the process of gathering, organizing and entering the bibliographic data in the paper.
However, there is a way to end this fatiguing work of collecting and then typing and re-typing data and bibliographic data.
Reference Management Software programs such as Zotero and JabRef can do the “dirty” work for us. Their main purpose is to automate processes such as gathering, organizing and entering the bibliographic data in the paper, and finally, the management of such data. Zotero and JabRef are open source software programs, which means that to utilize their full potential, additional features do not have to be bought for money. For this reason, they are more user friendly and more easily accessible than the competing commercial software programs. In a similar way, open access books and journals use this advantage over traditionally published scientific papers.
Besides automating such processes, reference management software programs enable users to search directly through some of the most important databases and to harvest this bibliographic data which is necessary for research. In addition, Zotero and JabRef are cross-platform programs which means that Mac, Win and Linux versions are available, and the import and export of almost any bibliographic file format is supported.
To sum it up; in order to exchange bibliographic data among researchers, special file formats are required. Some of the most popular formats are RIS and BibTex formats, supported by almost all bibliographic programs, that is, together they make 100% of all currently known bibliographic programs, both commercial and open source. They enable users to exchange information even if they use different bibliographic programs. A growing number of open access publishers and repositories is making its bibliographic data available in these file formats which are ready to be imported into bibliographic databases and the automated reference system.
Great post, I don’t know where I’d be without one! Reference management software has certainly gained a lot from the open source revolution, with free alternatives outnumbering the paid counterparts. I love Zotero, but I also quite like Mendeley, Wizfolio, and Qiqqa – they are also free.
I agree, Mendeley is pretty great, especially it’s iOS mobile versions – will do a post solely about it in a week or so. Also, I will give Wizfolio and Qiqqa a shot. Your comment and additional information is much appreciated.