As an academic I often need to refer to work done by others, this normally done by noting their published work as a list of references or bibliography at the end of my documents. The most basic way of achieving this would be to have a stack of published books and papers in my drawer that I can refer to and then type in the reference details at the end of the each document I want to write. I'm sure that plenty of people do work this way, but from my point of view I see it as pretty inefficient (lots of printing, lots of sorting, lots of typing, not very portable, an awful pain to change reference styles, etc).
I manage my references entirely in software using a few specific tools. I've mentioned most of them in other posts but I'll go into a bit more detail here on the actual process I use.
I'm going to split referencing into two separate processes. Firstly, as I'm researching a topic, I tend to gather references to get an idea what I'm doing. Secondly, when I come to document my work I need to search and cite the references I've found.
Google Scholar is generally my primary resource for finding papers and documents. I also rely on standard Google searches a massive amount and I have a Google alert set up to email me when a few key phrases appear in new articles added to the web.
IEEExplore generally has most of the published work (in terms of papers, Journal articles, etc) that I need to refer to. The University has a subscription to this that allows me to download what I need (otherwise I'd have to pay!).
Pdf format is generally how almost all papers are delivered and the format that I keep them in. I use Foxit reader to read pdf documents. I keep all my reference documents in one big folder rather than worrying about any kind of complex filing system.
I use Bazaar to version control my folder of pdf documents. I've previously discussed how this works and how it allows me to work between different computers, even without installing any software on them.
I use a tool called cb2bib to maintain a list of references in bibtex format. I started off just using this to add references to my bibtex file, but I've found it to also be really good for browsing references and citing whilst writing a document. I changed some of the default setup to help it retrieve data from the net.
I use Latex to typeset most of my work. Within this I can simply point it at the bibtex file for all the details of the references. I have previously mentioned how to use a bibtex file that is not in the same place as the rest latex document.
- Search for the document that I need to find using Google, Google Scholar or general web browsing.
- Open and read the document to see if it looks relevant and useful. Assuming that it does...
- Download the document to my big folder of "third party" references. I tend to use the full title of the work as the save name of the document - this can lead to quite long file names, but it makes it a lot easier to find things!
- Add the saved file to my bazaar version control system. This only takes a couple of clicks through tortoiseBzr menus in windows explorer.
- Add the document to my bibtex file using cb2bib. This is a pretty straightforward process:
- Open cb2bib, I have a keyboard shortcut setup for this (it should also remember what bibtex file is being used)
- Click "import from pdf file"
- Click "select files"
- Select pdf files saved previously (hold ctrl to select a bunch at once)
- Click "process"
- The software will try to extract as much info as possible from the pdf file, this probably won't be enough so...
- Click Network query to retrieve all the info about the file from the web (this usually works fine, but it's worth checking the results, you may need to give it the right title to start it off)
- Click save to add the reference to the bibtex file
- The changed bibtex file and added references will need to be "commited" to the version control repository.
- With a Latex document that has a pointer to the bibtex file within it.
- Open cb2bib citer (I use a keyboard shortcut) and select the reference(s) required:
- [optional] Select the way I want my reference list displayed by pressing "a" (author), "j" (journal), "t" (title) or "y" (year). I find author is usually best.
- [optional] Filter the reference list by pressing "f" and then typing what you want to search for ("d" clears the search)
- Click on a chosen reference
- [optional] Press "o" to open the reference and read it
- Press "enter" to cite the reference, a small pen marker will appear next to it (in author view it will appear next to each author for the same paper). Multiple references may be cited by selecting them and pressing "enter". "delete" clears all the selected references.
- Press "c" once all the references for citing are selected, this will close the citer window and copy the latex text for the references to the clipboard.
- Paste the text into the latex file to include the references at that point in the document.