Reference Manager Comparison

Following up from the previous post, which offered a link to a prezi on (postgraduate, and primarily text-oriented) research workflow, with a digital tool emphasis, here is a similar link to a prezi that compares Endnote and Zotero in particular, and notes the existence of an integrated word processor and reference manager tool called Comwriter.

Ref Mgr Prezi Sshot

You’ll have to forgive the minority of instructions that are specific to our institution here in Australia, Melbourne School of Theology (MST), along with its parent accrediting body, the Australian College of Theology. The three resources treated here are those that feature our in-house citation style. Some other interesting ones include Mendeley, ReadCube, and Docear, which combines reference management and writing with a mindmapping function, though it isn’t easy to learn, in my opinion.

One point of interest in the prezi is a comparison of the relative advantages of Endnote v. Zotero, two of the most popular reference managers. In a word, Endnote has more power under the hood for large library management and mass-editing, and offers a lot more free space online, while Zotero is more user-friendly and versatile, with better notetaking, tabbing and linking of records, and of course, it’s free, even when you’re not a student. That’s hard to beat. More details in the prezi!

Research Workflow Revisited

A few years ago I prepared a prezi to explain research workflow to students at our college, and I recently refreshed it for a seminar to some of our postgraduates. It really hints or suggests a workflow rather than fully explaining it, and it indicates some of the digital tools that may come in handy. The focus is on literary studies, in connection with my own more specific field of biblical studies. I offer the link to the prezi here again for those interested.

Research Workflow Prezi 02-2018

I have also revisited two main reference managers in recent times, Endnote and Zotero, comparing their virtues in their latest versions, so stay tuned and I’ll offer that prezi with my summary of their relative strengths, life permitting.

The Digital Document Detective Episode 2: Ancient and Medieval Backgrounds

You can find many important ancient, medieval, Renaissance/Reformation and Modern primary documents online. The scene is changing all the time, and sometimes documents you could find earlier disappear. But more often the trend is towards greater availability, and other parties such as European libraries and universities are catching up to Google in providing materials online. Top-notch critical editions and recent scholarly publications are the two categories of documents usually not available online except behind paywalls. Older materials, private translations, book previews, online journals…there is still much that is useful that can be found online for free. Here is merely a sample list, stemming from things I was looking for in my own research:

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The Digital Document Detective Episode 1: Online Sources for Patristic Study

One of the guilty pleasures of research for me is trying to beat the challenge of finding that hard-to-discover primary or secondary document (i.e. the original source, or the things written about that source). At first blush, it looks as though you have to travel to Stuttgart or the British Library to find that rare document, which from Melbourne, Australia, where I live, is not just around the corner. But when you scratch around in internet land and locate it in some obscure digital repository, there’s a definite nerdy satisfaction to be had.

I’ve found a few new places, or kinds of places, where those old writings can be found, or newer ones that at first seem locked away in universities. I am studying church fathers at the moment, so that determines which digital doorways I’m going to mention this time around. On the off chance that it helps your research, if you’re a student of ancient Christian thought and writing, here are some ideas. And they’re all free.

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Top Ten Software Tool List #1 – What I Depend On

Now for something different – 3 top ten lists of software tools:

1. Top Ten Software Tools I Depend On

Sorry about the following; I’m just a Windows man, and once came near the bottom of one computer class at high school.  You’ve been warned:

  1. MS Outlook, without which I’d never see an email.  I also use its Task List religiously.
  2. MS Word, one of those programs that you never manage to fully exploit.  There’s always more hidden power you don’t know about.
  3. MS PowerPoint, the backbone of my teaching materials.  I prepare no teaching notes other than to outline my thinking well in my PowerPoints, many of which have been through 6 or 8 incarnations.  PowerPoint is actually very capable in things like managing multiple layers, complex animation sequences, attaching links and actions to objects, etc.  I also like its range of colour combinations, although I ought to get hold of some new templates.
  4. EndNote is probably next, where I keep absolutely all my ongoing life bibliography, especially for teaching and research.  Though I still type entries a little too often.  And I’ve been tempted by the opposition (see below).
  5. BibleWorks is my biblical studies staple.  If I’d been born in a Mac universe, I suspect I’d be using Accordance, which seems better-looking and more user-friendly, and some other birth circumstances might have put me in Logos world, but since I try to come by a lot of books and commentaries second hand or cheaply if possible, collecting virtual Logos libraries is not presently my way of operating.
  6. Prezi is often my preferred way to do class presentations, notwithstanding my continuing dependence on PowerPoint.  The canvas layout and zooming ability opens up nonlinear teaching possibilities that just aren’t there with PP, though in other respects it actually feels more limited and difficult to use.  Zooming is your only way to compress info, really, though it is possible to have frames of content that are invisible until they’re called upon.  See my link to my current Prezi collection in the right side bar.
  7. MS OneNote, the last MS program I’ll include here.  I was put onto it by a work colleague 1-2 years ago and now depend on it as a kind of sketchpad and notebook, the way many people would use EverNote.  It also syncs to the cloud, my OneDrive account (yes, it’s MS again).
  8. Google Chrome, for web browsing, after Explorer had trouble interacting with Moodle (below).  My wife uses Firefox.
  9. Moodle, the open source LMS (learning management system) software used by our college.  I’ve even dabbled briefly with the html on the odd occasion – a step forward for me.
  10. Sorry this is so boring, but #10 is actually Paint in Windows accessories.  I use it to crop and convert Windows screen clippings to create images for Pinterest and other applications.  It has became my key graphics translator tool.  What a hacker, eh?

Next time: Top Ten Tools I’ve Begun to Dabble With