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Thursday, February 24, 2011

BibMe, Zotero

When I heard that and had become citation partners, I decided to check BibMe out. I went for BibMe simply because it's web-based, and that made it attractive for accessing from multiple computers--if I worked mostly from one machine, I would have downloaded Citavi to explore also.

I have to admit I'm rather new to online citation & reference management. I've been using for a few months, and love it for managing information gleaned from online sources, but was attracted to BibMe because it's a bibliography builder. I have to also admit that I haven't thoroughly explored Zotero's capabilities to generate bibliographies--after about five minutes of clicking around, I gave up, and the announcement about BibMe sent me there--so please let me know if there's great functionality in Zotero that I missed!

Within seconds, I was compiling a bibliography in BibMe. Registration isn't necessary--you can use it to generate citations immediately without registration. I did end up registering, though, because I wanted to save a bibliography and share it. I had a great bibliography generated in a few minutes: my Maritime Reading Lists (or lists that include maritime titles). If you want to add any of these to your own bibliography, click the "Add to Bibliography" icons--although you won't see anything happen, when you click the "Bibliography Maker" tab, the citations you added will be there, where you can manipulate them, download them, etc.

My only wish is that the URLs listed in the citations for websites be activated--having to copy & paste a link into a browser window to go there seems antiquated to me.

In the future, I will explore the capabilities of Zotero more thoroughly--I like it because of the short learning curve, or, really, no learning curve--I was up and running with it right away after installing it with my Firefox browser. But I won't be doing that right away--it runs very, very slowly for me. BibMe runs faster--everything loads quickly, and I have a citation in whatever standard format I choose right away, accessible from anywhere. With Zotero, I need to log in to see "My Library," (after doing a sync from the computer I've been using), and just logging in takes a long time.

So if you're new to managing your online sources, you may wish to check out these tools--or others--there are many, many out there! These are two tools that I've been trying out.


Latinamericanist said...

You don't really need to log-in to Zotero to use it - the main feature of Zotero - and it's data - sits in your browser and on your local harddisk and that's what you use to create bibliographies.
As far as I can see, BibMe has 3 or 4 citation styles (one of them - APA - using an outdated manual). Zotero has about 300 different styles, covering close to 2000 publications and department requirements.
It also integrates into your word processor, so you can use things like numbered styles (Nature, Science, AMA, IEEE...) correctly. BibMe is quite frankly a tool for undergraduate students, not for serious citation management.

Heather said...

Thanks for writing, Latinamericanist--very helpful! I have a lot to learn about Zotero! The problem for me with Zotero is that it resides in one browser & local hard disk--I'm regularly on up to four different computers, and sync-ing all of them is too much trouble. I'm hoping to find a fast, web-based tool.

Carl said...

Zotero has a wealth of functions that it appears you have missed out on.

Zotero can generate bibliographies in a number of ways. From within MS Word or OpenOffice Writer, you can generate a bibliography of all the referenced sources in your paper.

From within Zotero, right click on any collection folder and you can generate a bibliography in any style of all the entries in that collection. This can be saved in several different ways, including just being saved to the clipboard, so you can immediately go back to your word processor and paste it directly into your paper. Zotero will not generate a bibliography for your whole library, so if you have already done so, you need to start using collection folders.

Right click on any individual source and you can generate a bibliographic entry for that single source.

Heather said...

Thanks, Carl! I really appreciate your taking the time to write--you've given me some great pointers!

Latinamericanist said...

Heather - if it needs to be web-based, Refworks is still way ahead of the competition - though it's not free.

An alternative is to use a tool like Cite-U-like to gather citation and download them to Zotero - which is quite easy. If you're mainly writing on one or two computers that's very feasible.
Zotero's online interface will improve eventually, but I'm not sure to what extent.

But using a small tool with only four citation styles, very limited item types and fields, no possibility to attach files, limited annotation capability etc. is imho just a waste of time.