Monday, December 5, 2011

Collaborative bibliograhies

How can multiple authors share a set of bibliographic entries, referencing them as necessary during the creation of a single, shared document?
  • BibTeX / LaTeX -- either the only choice for the faithful or an unacceptable morass for the unwashed. I consider it morally wrong for a word processor to generate syntax errors, so I fall in the second group.
  • EndNote -- the mainstream, commercial solution. Sharing requires creativity, as documented below.
  • Zotero, WizFolio, etc. -- I have no experience and feel that these products are a bit too young to inflict on a large team, members of which may not love shiny new applications as much as I.
So, that leaves EndNote. I have a love/hate relationship -- in spite of regular upgrades, many of annoyances in the first version I used persist into X5, some of which I discuss today. For EndNote sharing:
  • number of problems make their EndNote Web application a poor choice.
  • As in the first version I used, the main program permits only single-user access. Sorry, no Dropbox, no network share, no Windows Offline, no, no no. What year are we in?
So...the appropriate approach is to:
  1. Create a new Google Doc (or some other document which allows multiple users to edit it simultaneously).
  2. Each author will then enter references to be cited into their own EndNote library.
  3. Each user can then cite this entered reference by first selecting the reference to cite in EndNote then pressing Ctrl+c (copy). In Google Docs, press paste. This will generate a temporary citation of the form {First author's last name, year #num}. While this works in most cases, EndNote doesn't use the record number (the #num entry) to disambiguate entries with the same last name and year of publication, leaving you somewhat confused as to what {Smith, 1988 #23} really meant when you first cited it. Therefore, manually add one other field of your choice (such as the title) to the temporary citation before the record number, giving {First author's last name, year title #num}. There are many other nifty temporary citation options.
With that in place, one person (the coordinator) will then produce a final Word document with citations and a bibliography. To so do:
  1. All collaborators should save their EndNote library as a compressed library in a shared location (e.g. Dropbox).
  2. The coordinator should then copy everyone else's compressed library to a separate, non-shared directory, then open all these libraries in EndNote.
  3. Now, the coordinator simply opens the shared document in Word and clicks on Endnote | Update references.

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