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Citing Simplified

By Carrie Chennault

As a graduate school student, keeping up with relevant journal articles, books, and other publications requires not only scheduling time to read, but also attention to content management.  By content management, I mean tracking, storing, organizing, and referencing publications.  The importance of one’s content management process comes to the forefront during the writing process.  While manual citations may familiarize a writer with his or her chosen citation style, such as APA or MLA, other compelling factors have led me to implement a more automated citation process.  To name a few factors, these include switching citation styles, reusing the same citation in multiple papers with different citation styles, in-text citation dependencies on other citations within the same paper (for example, multiple papers by the same author or by two authors with the same last name), and most importantly, saving time.  The dynamic nature of references and in-text citations throughout the writing process can lead to time staking revisions in a manual process.  The intricately detailed rules also make it easy to make a citation mistake.  Let’s fix that.

Screenshot of EndNoteTime Saver #1:  Use content management software

Of course, that’s where software applications come into play.  Most writers and researchers have used some system to collect and even organize references.  Popular citation managers include EndNote (or EndNote web), ZoteroMendeleyBibtex/Biblatex, and Google Scholar Citations. Yet, many writers still create works cited and in-text citations manually.  Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case.

So in the following time saver tips, I’m going to discuss two examples of functionalities offered by citation management software.  Iowa State University offers its students and researchers access to EndNote web, so I’ll use it for my examples.  If you are affiliated with the university but don't have an EndNote web login, go here for instructions. 

Time Saver #2:  Automatically import references into EndNote web

With an EndNote web account, it's easy to import citations without typing a word.  If you’re affiliated with Iowa State University, you have access to Web of Knowledge (or Web of Science) through the library system. Within Web of Knowledge, search for an article, and you have the option to "Save to EndNote online."

Screenshot of EndNoteIf the article you're looking for is not listed in Web of Knowledge, it requires a few more steps. (Tip: If you have a DOI for the article, it often will yield a search result in Web of Knowledge even when the name of the article or the author yields no results.)

Even if your results do not appear in Web of Knowledge, you should almost never have to type out a bibligraphic entry.   For instance, with Google Scholar (or Scopus through the ISU library system, or most any journal database), you can click on some form of a “Cite” link within a search result, then click on the End Note button to download a .enw file to your computer, and finally go into End Note Web to upload the .enw file.  EndNote and other content managers accept many filename extensions, so  our download options are not limited to .enw files.

Time Saver #3: Automatically create in-text citations and works cited within Word

If you have an EndNote web account, download the Cite While You Write plugin for use in Microsoft Word.

Now you’re writing and ready to cite a source in Word.  Go to the EndNote tab on the Word toolbar to search within your EndNote library for a reference. Among the options in the Cite While You Write plugin, you can format the style (such as APA 6th) of your choosing.  The application automatically creates and formats both in-text citations and the references at the end of your paper, so you do nothing!  

Screenshot of WordIt also lets you decide how to present in-text citations (with or without author, year, page number, special text, etc.). Presto, bingo!  It’s really that simple.  If you add another paper from the same author with the same year, the application will automatically update the in-text citations, for example, to display 2014a and 2014b.  If you add a third paper from that author in that same year but which precedes the other two papers in the works cited list, the application automatically updates the a, b, and c suffixes accordingly.  Rather than spending time worrying about these small details, you can get on with your writing.

For theses and dissertations that require more than one chapter and more than one reference list, there is a catch.  You must create separate word files for each chapter of your paper because word only allows one reference section per document.  However, that is always the case, regardless of whether you use the EndNote plugin or Word's automatic works cited generator.  When creating a final PDF file for submission from each of your chapters in Word, you can subsequently combine the multiple documents into a single file using Adobe Acrobat Pro or LaTex.


Final Thoughts

As I continue on my journey as a doctoral student, I plan to look at other content management software and document preparation options.  LaTex combined with BibTex/Biblatex is particularly appealing because Iowa State University provides theses/dissertation templates and it is free/open source.  I really enjoy the flexibility offered by LaTex.  Its usability can get in the way though.  A major disadvantage is that a writing team needs both time and interest in overcoming an initial hurdle of writing text within the theses/dissertation templates, which like all LaTex files, display the LaTex syntax.  Other options may be your best bet.  As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, there are numerous content management options out, and one in particular, Qiqqa (pronounced “quicker”) has caught my attention.  It offers a free basic option and educational pricing for its premium edition.  Perhaps it will inspire a future blog post!

Join in the Discussion

Do you have a favorite content management system or software?  We all have much to learn from each other, and I would greatly appreciate your tips, insights, and strategies!

The author, Carrie Chennault, is a PhD student in the LESEM and PLUS labs at Iowa State University.

Disclaimer:  The products—including citatation management, abstract and citation database, search engine, document preparation, and word processing options—mentioned in this blog post are a non-exhaustive list, and in writing this post the author is not promoting the use of any particular product, nor has or will the author receive benefits from the mention of any of these product options.  Rather, the examples mentioned in this post are for illustrative purposes only, and EndNote in particular was highlighted because of Iowa State University’s subscription for its students and researchers to its services.