Sunday, April 20, 2008

Managing references 1: Background

In the past couple of weeks, I've started writing. No, I don't mean blog posts (as some of you may have noticed), but really writing. As in: dissertation writing. I figured that now that I've recently reviewed the literature for my oral qualifying exam, this would be a good time to start writing chapter 1, the literature review.

In the past I've used Windows/XP, and for as long as I can remember using wordprocessors, I've used WordPerfect. The Reveal Codes option in Wordperfect is, as far as I know, unmatched so far. It was particularly cheap when I bought the academic version for students. To manage my references and citations, I used Reference Manager, and last year I purchased the latest version of that too.

Things have changed. My laptop was 7 years old last year, and consequently a bit slow (read: maddeningly slow!). I bit the bullet and converted to MAC/OsX. What a joy! One tiny little problem, WordPerfect has sold out to Microsoft, and is no longer available for MAC. I got Parallels Desktop, and ran Windows on my MAC, just so that I could run WordPerfect and SAS (for statistical analysis). I did send an angry e-mail to WordPerfect about this. I've been a loyal customer since the late 80s (version 4.2!), and this is what I get in return?

Then problems arose, because my adviser wanted to go back and forth with different edited versions of an abstract I was working on, and this didn't work well if I worked in WordPerfect, and he worked in MS-Word. Luckily, I could purchase a license for Microsoft Office for MAC through the university bookstore for about $12. This had the added advantage that the editorial office hands out dissertation templates for MS-Word, so that would greatly reduce the time I had to spend on formatting. Only now, Reference Manager doesn't work on my MAC. I need a new way to manage my references.

I will need to keep track of several hundred references (books, journal articles, abstracts, and such), be able to integrate the citations seamlessly into my dissertation. This started off my recent search to a reference manager that would:
1. work on Word
2. work on MAX OS X
3. allow me to format my references according to several different journal styles
4. not cost a fortune.

To be continued...


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