Research Paper Automation Programs
February 27, 2006 5:32 PM   Subscribe

Anyone know of any good programs for research paper/thesis writing? One that automates your end/footnote and in-text notation after loading in your bibliography/references? I will be writing a long and involved research paper and any program that helps me to format and note my references in the body of the paper would help so much!
posted by psususe to Education (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Endnote is great. I know that other people will recommend other things. But Endnote is what I am currently using for my dissertation.
posted by bove at 5:36 PM on February 27, 2006

Endnote! Love it!
posted by meerkatty at 5:36 PM on February 27, 2006

Endnote, especially because I didn't have to pay for it (I used it at the lab).
posted by rxrfrx at 5:39 PM on February 27, 2006

Previously discussed, sorta.
posted by holgate at 5:41 PM on February 27, 2006

Alternately, Bibtext and Latex - but that way lies more much work and marginally prettier figure placement. I'd still write in Word with Endnote.
posted by metaculpa at 5:51 PM on February 27, 2006

Platform details, please!

If you're using LaTeX, BibTeX (or something BibTeX- based) is the only way to go. Or are you using Word? OS X or Windows? Endnote works reliably with Word on Windows, but if you're using a Mac, I would give Bookends a try. (Not to say that Endnote on a Mac is bad.)
posted by mr_roboto at 5:55 PM on February 27, 2006

Microsoft Word 2003 should be able to handle this. I've been a complete computer nerd for years and have used MS Word since version 6 (about) for Win 3.1. I still see people using Word in a way I've never thought about before. The "Track Changes" feature has recently been really awesome and useful. I've seen people keep track of references exactly how you are stating with it as well, but i'm not sure how exactly. 2003 comes with XML extensions that may do what you want.
posted by nickerbocker at 6:04 PM on February 27, 2006

Response by poster: I am using Windows.....and Microsoft Office...
posted by psususe at 6:07 PM on February 27, 2006

Response by poster: Endnote looks awesome, but also prohibitively expensive...
posted by psususe at 6:29 PM on February 27, 2006

LaTeX and BibTeX are much easier to use than people think. If you don't try and fight it, you'll get pretty output, easily. And it screams at footnotes etc. Plus: free.
posted by bonaldi at 6:32 PM on February 27, 2006

Endnote looks awesome, but also prohibitively expensive...

Are you in school? You should be able to get an educational discount. Check with your school bookstore.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:45 PM on February 27, 2006

Endnote is your only real option with Microsoft Office, though there is Nota Bene without it. I'm not terribly fond of Nota Bene, though.

I'm going to go out on a limb here though.

C'mon. Feel the pull. Ditch Microsoft Office, buy WinEdt and go with LaTeX and BibTeX.

Yes, it's a long, hard road for the first couple of weeks. The webpages are difficult to follow. The support is hard to decipher. The document looks like what you use Word to get away from. It creates all sorts of weird files when you create the pdf.

But then, slowly, like sobriety on a Sunday morning... comes understanding and the power of knowing that everything you've written is sitting somewhere in plain text on your hard drive. That your file will never suffer corruption again. Backups are created automatically if you want and they are easy to read. That what you write is actually typeset. That people who read it won't get "double-spacing fatigue" in Times New Roman.

Everything is going to be in xml in a decade anyway. Take the step now. Content is separated (almost) from form. No longer do you risk losing weeks of work to a closed file format. No longer does messing with styles or creating indexes or tables of content or figures or equations become an infuriating nightmare of wrestling with hidden settings. No longer must you rely on a program like endnote to keep your references in another format and deal with endnote styles in addition to Word styles.

The cave is dark my friend. The light I'm describing will look only like a faint glimmer far away and inaccessible should you set to find it. But when found, it's richness will envelop you and someday you could write this.

And hey, I'm not a whiz-bang in tech matters, yet I got it to work. Just politely nod when people say "CTAN".
posted by ontic at 6:56 PM on February 27, 2006

LaTeX + bibTeX has far more nerd mana than anything mixed with Word does. Word has actual anti-mana.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:15 PM on February 27, 2006

Whatever the merit of the programs Ontic recommends, his writing is great.
posted by madstop1 at 7:36 PM on February 27, 2006

What's your field? EndNote works better for some disciplines (and their associated formatting styles) than others; Nota Bene suits others; LaTeX/BibTeX suits others still.

And reiterating what has been said in previous discussions: if you're looking to go from longish research papers to a long dissertation or thesis, the jump from MS Office to LaTeX is worth making -- and worth making now, rather than when you're a week away from submission and Word mangles your file or auto-formats it to hell.
posted by holgate at 7:48 PM on February 27, 2006

Everything is going to be in xml in a decade anyway. Take the step now.

For the record, no sober person is ever going to confuse LaTex with XML. Would that it were so.

In that spirit, DocBook is another excellent text-based format that converts to many formats easily, including HTML, LaTex, PDF and RTF. I don't do much format document writing myself, but if I were to, that's what I would use. However, it has nothing in particular to do with bibliographies, while LaTex/Bibtex does, so those are admittedly probably more appropriate.
posted by gsteff at 8:10 PM on February 27, 2006

er, I don't do much formal document writing
posted by gsteff at 8:12 PM on February 27, 2006

If money is an a problem, check to see if your school's library has a subscription with Ref Works. Not quite as powerful as Endnote or Bibtex but if the library uses it, then that means most of the library's databases are set up so that importing citations into Ref Works is usually fairly simple to do. And being web based means you can access it from any computer, anywhere.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 9:09 PM on February 27, 2006

I don't know that learning TeX is going to be worth the pain for the paper, especially if you plan on collaborating with anyone (that is, if you have an advisor, etc. who will be reading it as you write it and sugesting edits). Unless both of you are going to go to TeX stick with Word.

And get EndNote. Ask around - You might know someone who has a copy already and can show you how to use it, which helps with the learning curve. Once you start auto-inserting references you start wondering how you managed before. Some universities even offer EndNote for free to students - I know a few people who have copies from their undergrad institutions (although you're supposed to uninstall it when you leave...)
posted by caution live frogs at 6:38 AM on February 28, 2006

Make sure you check to see if your university has a site license to anything. Endnote's a common buy, but other schools will buy access to something like RefWorks. The nice thing about RefWorks is that it's web-based, so you can access it anywhere and don't have to worry about making sure you've got some specific software involved. It is pricy for the individual though, so not worth pursuing if your school hasn't already paid for it.
posted by Carol O at 8:38 PM on February 28, 2006

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