2: Managing Your Bibliography
Among the most popular and widely-used digital tools for humanities scholars are several bibliography-management systems. EndNote, RefWorks, and Zotero all catalogue bibliographic data. All work using the same basic database model but have slightly different capacities. In particular, all three enable users to import, accumulate, and export bibliographic data in a relatively easy and painless way, and all work with word processing programs. A number of sites have offered comparisons of these programs (here, here, here and here — but note that some of these comparisons are dated). There are benefits and drawbacks to each, and choosing one is often a matter of personal preference.
Among Zotero’s most distinctive characteristics is that it is free, open source, and was created by academic scholars for academic scholars. Zotero is run by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University and operates within the Firefox browser, although it recently announced plans to develop a stand-alone desktop application. Once installed, Zotero can take web screen shots and store them in your database. This allows users to archive a web page for bibliographic use, even if the page is later taken down or revised.
All of these programs are able to capture bibliographic data from a variety of websites. If you’re reading a book in Google Books, for example, you can click on a button within your browser that will instantly download bibliographic data on the item you’re using. This automatic detection is also enabled for many library catalogues, databases (such as JSTOR), websites, blogs, and videos.
Zotero, RefWorks, and Endnote are all compatible with Microsoft Word (some require a plugin), allowing users to add citations and bibliographies while writing. Adding a citation simply requires selecting a source from your stored library and entering a page number. Users can switch a document’s citation style from one to another (Chicago, MLA, etc.) with a few clicks. (This is particularly useful since journals have different citation standards.) All of the programs are capable of creating bibliographies as well, saving scholars the hours of entering sources manually.