How to reconcile citations?
January 12, 2013 4:24 PM   Subscribe

I need to make sure that all the works I cite in my dissertation are included in the references section at the end. What is your super streamlined and efficient method?

My method with much shorter pieces has been to ctrl+f for ( ) in the document, paste all found citations into a separate document, alphabetize, clean up, and generate the final list of references by selecting those citations from my bibliography software. Authors and publishers have to do this all the time...there has to be a better way, right?

Possibly relevant information: I have an old EndNote library with some citations and a more updated but poorly organized/not cleaned Mendeley library. I don't see how that comes into play until I already have a list of which citations I need.
posted by kochenta to Education (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Does the Cite While You Write plugin (for Word, maybe similar software) work with your version of Endnote? Basically, when you want to insert a citation in your Word doc, you highlight the source in the Endnote program, switch to Word, and hit Alt+2. I just wrote a dissertation and highly recommend this.
posted by ecsh at 4:29 PM on January 12, 2013

My top secret tool as an academic copyeditor is the ReferenceChecker plugin for word. It's not free, but there's a free trial which might help you determine if it's worth your cash.

You can't trust it 100% - occasionally there's something like a mis-formatted citation or a citation with a line-break mid-cite that makes it flag something as an error when it's actually a typo or formatting error instead.. But you can run it and get a list of everything it thinks is an error, and then just click through them quickly to see whether it really is. It's a really helpful little tool.
posted by Stacey at 4:36 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

Well, Zotero will automatically generate a bibliography for you based on the embedded citations in Word. It does import Endnote libraries, you can export your Mendeley library as bibtex and import that into Zotero. In any case, you'll need to invest the time into cleaning up your references for the final push.
posted by cgk at 4:39 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I can't imagine writing a dissertation without some kind of citation manager. My dissertation had almost 400 references, which is not atypical. Managing those manually sounds miserable. Word actually has a rudimentary reference manager built in now, but I don't know how good it is.

The nice thing about using EndNote, etc. is that you don't have to have all of your citations figured out before you start writing. As you read or write, you come up with something you want to cite and enter it into EndNote. When you're ready to cite it, you paste a citation in. If you find a useful citation later, you enter it into EndNote then and paste in the citation. When you're ready to format, you can mess with the settings within EndNote until you have the complete bibliography formatted the way you need it.

As cgk notes, Zotero can also handle this for you (as can Papers if you're a Mac person), and it's pretty easy to import libraries from one citation manager to another.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:40 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Absolutely you should find some sort of plug-in system that works for you so you can embed the citations directly from your reference manager AS YOU WRITE. If you don't do that, you will be in for a horrible time at the end.

If you decide not to do that, for whatever reason, you can at least write a script (or find someone who knows how to script) to do the bits of your process that involve extracting anything between parentheses and alphabetising them. If you use an open-source ref manager (maybe export from Endnote to Bibtex), you might even be able to script some sort of auto-generation of the final citations from that alphabetised document. But you'll have to manually clean it up before that stage, to remove any parenthesised material that isn't a citation.

And instead of "find anything in parentheses" you can do a more complex find algorithm using regular expressions, which might help you eliminate some of the chaff. (And help you pick up the full citation in things like "Author (2012)". )
posted by lollusc at 4:44 PM on January 12, 2013

Another reason to use a citation manager:

If you publish your dissertation later as a book (or even separate chapters as journal articles) the publisher will require you to reformat the references into another style. This will be hell if you did them manually, and easy as pie if you used a reference manager.

(My dissertation had 40 pages of references. Imagine doing those by hand!)
posted by lollusc at 4:50 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

I really can't recommend Zotero as your citation manager enough. I went from reluctantly using it as my citation manager to now using it as my complete document database. I'd be lost without it.

The learning curve is shallow. Download the standalone version and the Word plugin and you're off to the races. There's also a Firefox plugin to import citations from a webpage (like a PubMed journal page). Seriously, spending a couple hours figuring this out now will save you days down the line.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 4:55 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yeah, EndNote or a similar reference manager is the way to go. I thought it was weird that my PI was so adamant about starting with EndNote as soon as I was writing my first piece as a second year, but he was totally right. I'd be curious as to why you don't have this type of software already? My department provided all students with a copy of EndNote for free....
posted by Tandem Affinity at 4:56 PM on January 12, 2013

I use a document/citation manager now (Sente), but I didn't for my dissertation, and it didn't kill me! But yes, if you're just starting the writing process, you'll be much happier if you choose a reference manager now and add stuff to it as you go.
posted by redfoxtail at 5:12 PM on January 12, 2013

What are you using to write your dissertation? Word has a built-in citation manager. It's not fancy, but it'll do ya. When I was doing my degree project for my graduate degree I added citations as I went and autogenerated a reference list when I was finished. I feel profoundly cheated I didn't have a citation manager in undergrad.
posted by calistasm at 5:24 PM on January 12, 2013

Zotero. The downside is that sometimes the metadata isn't perfect for the auto-generated citations, so check them as you write or plan to comb over them afterwards and make 'em pretty and correct. Book chapters always import poorly, in my experience. Sometimes article page numbers and journal volume/issue numbers are wonky. Just keep an eye on them; it's so much easier than doing this by hand. I just wrote a 100 page review with over 40 pages of citations using Zotero and Word and it was a snap. The citing and bibliography, I mean, not writing all that academic prose.
posted by k8lin at 9:04 PM on January 12, 2013

Zotero has OpenOffice plugins available as well, for those of us who like using up-to-date software but hate The Ribbon.
posted by flabdablet at 11:44 PM on January 12, 2013

If you use LaTeX with BibTeX, it is automatic--sources which are referred to in your text are listed in the bibliography, all sources in your database are not listed. BibTeX is easy to use with most other citation database software, too, like Endnote and Mendeley.

Otherwise, there isn't enough information given in this question--the citation manager you should use depends on which software you're using to write your dissertation.
posted by anaelith at 3:29 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

You don't need to switch to Zotero. Mendeley also has a Word plugin and will create a bibliography for you based on the in-text citations you add. There's no reason to switch that I can think of. Use tags in Mendeley to indicate which articles are being cited and then invest time in cleaning just those articles to streamline your cleaning process. Tag them as clean or something when you do so you don't forget.
posted by quiet coyote at 5:17 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Mendeley can do this. And you should be able to export that EndNote library and import it into Mendeley.

I know you might not want to take the time to learn to use a citation manager right now, and there is a bit of a learning curve but it will save you loads of time in the long run, especially with a dissertation. I recommend using a citation manager (and plugin) for anything with more than 20 or so citations.

Basically what you will do is put a placeholder citation into the document as you write, then at the end you'll press a button and the software will format your in-text citations and endnotes correctly (well, almost correctly - it will make some mistakes). It's pretty sweet.
posted by mskyle at 8:07 AM on January 13, 2013

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