Thursday, April 14, 2011

18,000 references !!!

My Endnote bibliography database now has 18,000 references. I periodically merge new references from a holding file with the main database, and after the merge just now, the total is 18,000! It's almost as good as seeing the car's odometer change over from 99,999 to 100,000, or perhaps the Mayan calendar going back to when the world ends in 2012.

I'm a bibliography nut. If I don't have it in my Endnote file, it doesn't exist in my personal world of scholarship. I don't import massive numbers of irrelevant references - only things that I will use, or am likely to use someday. It all started early in graduate school, when Clark Erickson showed me his library card catalog drawers full of references written on 3x5 index cards. How cool was that! I immediately started my own program of price supports for the index card manufacturers. Clark and I would make cards for each other when we came across appropriate references. I think I had between 15,000 and 20,000 cards in all. In the 1980s I got up to 1,000 or so citations into the Minark database. What a klunker! OK for very early PC days, I guess, but I soon switched to a bibliography program (I forget which one). Then Endnote came along and blew the other program out of the water. I've upgraded a bunch of times now. Students are using Zotero, Refworks, and other things, but they don't have the control and versatility of format/style found in Endnote.

I still have a couple of cartons full of those old index cards somewhere. I long ago dumped the nice wood library catalog drawers I got on surplus, but I still have the cards. I should pull them out - just think, grocery lists for the rest of my life!


Bruce said...

On your point that "Students are using Zotero, Refworks, and other things, but they don't have the control and versatility of format/style found in Endnote."

As the person that created the CSL style system in Zotero (and now, Mendeley, Papers2, and a few other apps), I'd say this needs one important qualifier: CSL is actually far more powerful than the pretty simple style system in Endnote. It's just that it doesn't yet have a nice, easy-to-use, GUI to expose that power to the average user (though hopefully we'll finally see one soon). So one needs some technical skill to create or edit styles yourself, or to simply request others do it (via, say, the Zotero forums). And unlike Endnote's style infrastructure (including the styles themselves), CSL is completely open.

Michael E. Smith said...

Every year or two, I check Zotero and Mendeley. When they will fit my needs better than Endnote I will probably switch. But that hasn't happened yet.