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How to Organize Data.

Bibliographic Software: One or more electronic search, storage, and retrieval programs that organize reference material, citations, bibliographies, footnotes, and related information within intercommunicating databases for rapid search and retrieval.

What is the best way to organize the mountain of reading material that accompanies each research project? With a plethora of literature available electronically on the Web, it is easy to become overwhelmed. However, modern bibliographic software offers a light at the end of the research and writing tunnel. These innovative software products now allow the researcher to file current reference materials in neatly organized databases, sorted in a coherent manner, and easily accessible for immediate retrieval. Whether the information is in print, a PDF file, or an electronic citation, bibliographic software simplifies the organization of reference material. The result for the researcher is less time spent on organization, more time created for output.

Although the research cycle can be laborious--searching for literature, experimenting and data collection, research and analysis, publishing and reporting results--the process is simplified with this technology. Bibliographic software enables a user to collect cutting-edge information from database services on the Web or a CD-ROM instantly without retyping. Modern products provide the user with the ability to search several libraries across the globe via the Internet and automatically download the reference information in a matter of moments. New references can be manually entered if they are not available from online sources. Most products allow the addition of personal notes, keywords, and other data to a reference. Maintaining curricula vitae with a list of published articles is effortless. It is also important to store links to PDF files on a hard drive or full text articles on the Web. Everything associated with a reference is stored for easy access.

The amount of time saved with a single repository of references is not the only benefit of using bibliographic software. One of the most attractive features is the ability to create in-text citations, bibliographies, footnotes, and endnotes for a manuscript or journal article--all with a click of a button. Bibliographic software usually comes prepackaged with the major manuals of style, as well as hundreds of the leading scientific journals' rules for authors. Whenever a style change is required, the manuscript is reformatted and ready in seconds--free of retyping the same reference over and over.

There are, for instance, some 445 learned journals and other publications, ranging from the "American Journal of Agricultural Economics" to "Visual Neuroscience Psycholinguistics." All have specific styles and contributors are expected to follow them. The general writer is probably familiar only with the workhorses of the bibliographic industry. "The Chicago Manual of Style is one of them, and diehard users are frequently committed to versions older than the most current edition. The vast variety of bibliographic styles requires a reliable organizing system.

As technology makes the research industry a small, closely knit community, research tools have evolved to accommodate the need to share information and ideas efficiently. Bibliographic software meets this need by placing information into a common format that may be shared among researchers through e-mail or the Web. Incoherent volumes of information no longer impede researchers who must share information effectively.

Any software program's strength stems from its versatility and ease of use. The competitive market for bibliographic software has encouraged makers to pack their programs with many helpful tools. At the same time, makers have updated their products to reduce wasteful steps that used to frustrate users. The strongest programs balance strength with intuitive functionality, making the product user-friendly without sacrificing power. As new innovations increase in the bibliographic software industry, the products will continue to offer new functions in convenient, easy-to-use packages.

Matus is the director of marketing at ISI ResearchSoft.
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Author:Matus, Nancy
Publication:R & D
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2001
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