Bibliography and Word Processing
As I understand it, a big part of a PhD is getting to grips with the surrounding literature. I want to share my initial set up for my bibliography and reference management, and then keep you posted as it changes over the course of the PhD.
Note: This isn’t a full discussion of all the options available, it just introduces the ones I’ve selected (LaTeX and JabRef). Please comment and let us know what you are using and how it is working out for you.
We can’t discuss reference management unless we also discuss what we are managing the references for. I’m thinking a little more detailed than “For my write up”. Let’s think word processing software.
The big word processing contenders for me (on my Windows 7 box) are Word 2008/2010 and LaTeX. If you haven’t come across LaTeX and you are doing a scientific PhD, then you will meet it. I shan’t introduce LaTeX here; I don’t really know much about it, and there are much better guides on the Internet. I’m probably going to use LaTeX, to start off with anyway, and see how it goes.
Using LaTeX implies that I’ll be using BibTeX to store my references. I asked around in the lab and Charlie Hargood explained that he uses JabRef to organise his. After a few searches and research, I decided to give JabRef a try too.
The first thing Charlie warned me about was what fields can show up when you import your references to your paper. So, check out below:
See that nice looking notes field at the bottom? Doesn’t it look like just the right place to put your notes as you read the paper? Don’t do it! Apparently some styles in LaTeX use the BibTex notes field and you may find your scruffy, scandalous notes in your paper Save it for the Review tab further along that tab menu.
JabRef allows you go link to the source of the paper, i.e. a file on the www or on your hard disc. I’ve got quite a few papers on my machine now. Rather than try and structure them in folders within folders, I’ve got them all in one folder and am simply linking JabRef to them. If I want to reread them, I’ll find them via JabRef rather than some weird structuring rules of my own.
Please write in and tell me what you are using for both your word processing and for your reference management. DB has been using a mac program called “Papers” and gets a lot out of it. Any other contenders for your attention?