03 February 2010

Reference Management Software

I totally should have started using a reference management software to take care of my bibliography six months ago. Now I'm spending hours catching up on finding references to papers I've read as I start working towards my thesis.

Since I'll be writing in LaTeX, I knew I wanted to use BibTeX to organize my bibliography. Although I write the LaTeX files in Emacs, I really didn't want to do that for my bibliography. I wanted a nice GUI software for that.

Looking around, I found Pybliographer to be quite nice. Until I started pasting in some text from web sites with odd text encodings, and things started to not be so nice, making me hunt for characters in the wrong encoding, etc, was definitely not what I was supposed to be doing.

Fed up, I went looking for a web based tool for managing my bibliographic database. I had a few criteria I needed fulfilled, and with Wikipedia in hand, I started looking at my options. Here's what I found.


What I wanted was something that's free (as in beer), web based, supported BibTeX importing and exporting, and would connect well with many of the existing academic bibliographic databases so I could reduce retyping.

I worked exclusively out of the list on Wikipedia since it was convenient. I really shouldn't be spending so much time on this, since each minute I spend on setting up my work environment is a minute not actually working (present blog post excluded, of course).

Here's the sites with the features I cared for:


Web-based
2collab
BibSonomy
CiteULike
RefWorks

Free
2collab
BibSonomy
CiteULike

BibTeX import
BibSonomy
CiteULike
RefWorks

BibTeX export
2collab
BibSonomy
CiteULike
RefWorks

Good Academic Database Connectivity
2collab (??)
BibSonomy
CiteULike

Looks to me like my choices are BibSonomy and CiteULike.  Now how am I going to choose between them without actually using them? I'll Google for some reviews.

What caught my eye was this page with its review saying that there were concerning issues with server crashes with BibSonomy dating to around October 2008.

Looking around some more, I see on the BibSonomy Blog word that there were some issues with server crashes with BibSonomy again dating to October 2009. It's not looking too good...

And I notice CiteULike is sponsored by Springer. Well, I'm sold! The only bad thing is, its login page isn't https secured...but I'll live. (Edit 2010-02-08: And now the login page is secured. See comments.)

4 comments:

Avatar said...

Hmm.. hope things will be well for BibSonomy in October 2010.

mlsci said...

Yeah, for sure! It looks like a good site, but I really don't want to have to deal with their server crashes.

Fergus Gallagher said...

Hi - I've added a secure/SSL sign-in option for you on CiteULike. I'll probably make it the default in due course.

Fergus@CiteULike

mlsci said...

Thanks Fergus, that's awesome!

Now if only the UI for tags worked everywhere in the same way as in the popup advanced bookmarklets...tab completion and all! :)