Monday, December 24, 2007

Reference Managers on Parade - The Conclusion

Other Options
My wife, a physics graduate student, is constantly puzzled by the fact that the paleontology community hasn't adopted LaTeX. Odds are that most of you reading this (someone does read this blog, right?) have never heard of LaTeX. It's somewhat akin to HTML, in that it's essentially a markup language for scientists. Thus, it's a little scary for those who have never ventured beyond the confines of their word processor. But. . .it's incredibly powerful. There are a whole host of bibliography management tools for LaTeX - JabRef is one example. The main reason LaTeX hasn't entered my sphere is because I collaborate with a lot of people who don't use it - so, there isn't a lot of incentive for me to learn it. Maybe one day, though. . .

Closing Thoughts
There isn't really a "perfect" open source reference manager out there yet. All of the packages have significant strengths, but also sometimes significant weaknesses. I think that the next year will experience major gains in open source reference managers, and hopefully by this time next year there will be several extremely good options. For the time being, I recommend experimenting to find one that works for you. Zotero is my current reference manager of choice - its integration with Firefox and capability to easily dump formatted references into a word processor move it to the top of the pack.


Julia said...

I know of one pseudo-palaeontologist (she works with dinoflagellates but only to destroy them) who uses LaTeX, but no one else.

It looks scary (hugs MS Office 2007).

Mike Keesey said...

I used LaTeX a bit when looking for standardized mathematical formats that could be used to represent clade definitions, but ultimately went with MathML.

One big problem with TeX is that it don't have nearly as wide support as XML. (And, frankly, it isn't quite as elegantly designed, although it might be as good or better for specialized things like representing math equations.) TeX is something meant just for typesetting, particularly mathematical typesetting, while XML is specifically designed to be general.

I think the future of bibliographic tools is probably in some XML dialect, or maybe even a microformat.

Anonymous said...

Great article!.I visited this site first time and is quite interesting for me.I think LaTeX is useful.Thanks.