All 6 entries tagged Reference Management

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March 08, 2013

Thomson Reuters RefScan

Thomson Reuters have recently released a new free application, RefScan, for iPhone and iPad. It is designed to provide a quick way to collect your references on the move. This is similar to a number of applications for mobiles and tablets that utilise the inbuilt camera as a scanner for QR codes or barcodes. There are a few other mobile reference tools available and they were discussed on this blog last year.

RefScan logo

The main feature of RefScan is its ability to scan the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) attached to a journal article and to search for the article. Once found, the reference for it can be saved into your EndNote Web account.

The process can be seen below:


The application also allows you to perform a basic search within the Web of Knowledge database, the results of which you can also directly import into EndNote Web. You can also add references manually.

I decided to test the application by trying to import a number of different articles from a variety of journals.

The first thing I noticed was that the scanning function is quite sensitive, blurring the image. I found it took several attempts to work successfully, which could become very frustrating. It appears to scan some typefaces more effectively than others and I found some serif fonts, like Time New Roman, scanned incorrectly and misread characters. Some typefaces needed more adjustments to make the scan as clear as possible, which could be problematic as DOI’s are usually included in a small font size on the page.

If the DOI does scan correctly, and the reference is found, the EndNote Web import works smoothly and effectively, including all the information usually imported from Web of Knowledge, such as abstracts.

As the application only searches for DOI’s within the Web of Knowledge database, the scanner only works with journals in that database, and (unless you already knew the title was in the system), you would not be able to tell this from the journal itself. You are also relying on the print copy to display the DOI for the article, which is not always done.

If RefScan finds no match, it gives you the option to manually add the reference details and import into EndNote Web. I would find this quite a fiddly and laborious process using a mobile phone keyboard (though better on an iPad). The manual reference gives you limited options, and the default type given to any manual reference is Journal article, and can’t be changed in the application.

I would also mention that every reference has to be imported separately, which could be time-consuming if you have a large number to add.

Manual reference

The other main issue I found was that my EndNote Web account could not be accessed directly in the application. This meant I could not easily check the reference once imported. Instead I needed to use a link to the EndNote Web mobile site in my browser. The problem with this method is that it requires you to log in to your account again, so the process is not seamless between RefScan and EndNote Web. Unfortunately currently EndNote Web does not have a standalone application for iPhone and iPad (though EndNote does have a browser application for iPad only), which limits its mobile effectiveness with RefScan.

Also I could download the application on my iPhone, but as it is only compatible with iOS 10.5.1 or greater, it would not work for Android users, or people with older technology.

Overall RefScan is an interesting idea, but is not yet developed or reliable enough for me to adopt regularly. The benefits of speed and mobility are currently outweighed by the frustration caused by its downsides. In fact I found it be more time-consuming to use the application than to make a note of the DOI, and find the article at a later date for import. Having said that, I would be very interested to see how the application evolves, as there is potential there for it to become far more useful.

Additional links


EndNote Web support in the Library

EndNote for iPad

July 16, 2012

Guest Post by Karina Hilder: References on–the–go…

Karina Hilder is an Academic Support Officer in the Library at the University of Warwick. This guest post describes her thoughts on using Mendeley and EndNote Web on mobile devices.

After a comparison of reference management tools Mendeley (free) and EndNote Web (free to University of Warwick researchers) I posted here a few months back, I thought I’d follow up with a few thoughts on using both on mobile devices.

Mendeley have made it quite explicit on their blog that they won’t be developing any Android apps themselves, and you only have to read a few comments to see that this has not been well received by Mendeley users. However, several third party apps have been developed to allow you access to your Mendeley records, the best of which I’ve found to be Scholarley. The set up was startlingly easy in comparison with Referey; simply download and login and Scholarley quickly syncs with your Mendeley account to bring article details and attached Pdfs onto your android device.

Mendeley have developed their own app for the iPad; Mendeley Lite. This works in a very similar way to Scholarley, with the added bonus of being able to search your references rather than just sorting and browsing them. Mendeley Lite also allows to view your favourites or recently added documents, and you can manually add references to your library.

Unfortunately, neither app brings across comments or highlights you’ve made on your papers in the desktop version of Mendeley. I can’t seem make new annotations either, but you do have the option of opening the Pdf with a different app on your device, so you could potentially access more functionality this way.

EndNote Web doesn’t have an Android or iOS (iPhone operating system) app, but of course being the web-based version of EndNote, you can access your references as usual from on any device with an internet browser; everything functions as you’d normally expect apart from importing reference data which you may have downloaded from a database. The mobile version of its website also displays fine on tablets and mobiles. This allows you to search and view your records, and of course if you have a stable link in the URL field, you can follow this through to view journal articles etc. in your browser, or potentially open a Full Text Pdf in another app if preferred.

Another research tool, Zotero has an Android app called Zotero Scanner. I didn’t download this as it wasn’t free (only £1.26 mind), but it allows you to scan the barcode on books to harvest its bibliographic information from Worldcat and send it to a Zotero reference library. I’m not sure how often I’d use this, as if I’ve got the books from my library, then presumably I’ve already visited the library catalogue and could have collected the bibliographic data from there. Then again, if you happen to spot another relevant book when you’re at the shelves, scanning it in to your reference library then and there could certainly be a big time saver.

I think the potential impact of these apps will depend on the way you use your reference library. Personally, I don’t use mine to manage my reading and papers; I use it because of the work it takes out of formatting in text citations and reference lists in Word, and if I plan on doing this on the go, I’ll definitely be taking my laptop with me. I think that’s why I’ve always stuck with EndNote Web. However, if you do use Mendeley for this reason, these apps may be an excellent way of keeping your Pdf library synced across your devices for easy access at all times. That said, if you’re interested more in Pdf reader functionality, you might be better off investing in a more capable app such as Papers (£10.49 – only on iOS), allowing you to sync your library across your devices and to annotate and highlight Pdfs. Of course, if you’re willing to pay out for your software, there’s a range of other possibilities you might want to look into including Sente (Mac and iOS). I’m sticking to free software here, but if you are interested, this blog post comparing Sente and Papers might be a good place to start.

April 27, 2012

A useful blog: New Media for Researchers

New Media for Researchers is a blog provided by Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge. It’s aimed at researchers in Business Studies, but is full of links and resources on reference management and finding information that will be useful to people working across a range of disciplines. I particularly like the new series of posts entitled ‘Stuff librarians know (that you should know too)’’.

February 27, 2012

Guest post: Reference management, a few thoughts following a Mendeley Workshop and Trial

Writing about web page

Karina Hilder is an Academic Support Officer in the Library at the University of Warwick. This guest post by Karina describes her thoughts on Mendeley and EndNote, following the Mendeley workshop, held in the Library on 16th February 2012.

As a contented and long-term user of EndNote Web, I hadn’t intended to consider Mendeley desktop for personal use; I was only hoping to gain knowledge which may enable me to do my job better. Primarily, I wanted to be able to field questions from researchers and students interested in using the software. After attending a workshop and using the software for a week however, I am flitting between moments of being sure that Mendeley is the answer to all my referencing problems, and times when I wonder why I ever considered abandoning EndNote Web. Here are a few of the issues I have been considering:

• Interface – Mendeley desktop has a more modern appearance in this respect – it almost resembles an email inbox, so navigating around the page is second nature for most of us. However, the EndNote Web tabs do make it very easy to find the function you are looking for, it’s just that the whole thing just looks and feels a little outdated.

• Handling Pdfs – It seems to me that the main advantage of Mendeley over EndNote Web is its ability to be a reference manager and a Pdf reader in one. The highlighting and comments features are neat and user friendly, and being able to categorize your papers as read, reviewed, unread etc. is very handy. However, this only works for those of us who are willing to read papers on the computer screen. I have always printed papers in the past and now read them on my Kindle as it is easier on the eye and saves me lugging my laptop around. Unfortunately, Mendeley doesn’t offer any synchronisation between the two, although it looks like there are a few independent (but potentially costly) applets around which offer this function, such as kinsync. I’d be interested to know if anyone has tried one of these – and how it handled transferring comments and highlighted sections.

• Importing Data – There are two main options for importing reference metadata into Mendeley:

  1. you can use the Mendeley Importer Bookmark to import data directly from a database search
  2. or you can extract the data from a Pdf file.

I’ve tried Option 1. with JSTOR, Pubmed, Google Scholar and EBSCOHost. In each case the fields were copied correctly (but I would still always recommend checking the data before using the reference in your work). However, Mendeley didn’t manage to transfer the Pdfs, meaning I then had to download these separately and then add them to my Mendeley library -so overall, the process wasn’t any quicker than with EndNote Web.

Option 2, of simply adding all your Pdf files to Mendeley and letting it populate the fields seems too good to be true. This is perhaps why - despite trying this with several of my Pdfs and getting largely correct data - I have remained suspicious of it. Even the Mendeley FAQs aren’t very reassuring about this process: “Mendeley tries to 'guess' which text constitutes the authors, title and other metadata. The accuracy of this step will depend on factors such as the complexity of the article's layout.” Again, I would recommend double checking all imported data.

For me, the jury is still out on this one, but I suppose the beauty of it is that as EndNote Web and Mendeley Desktop are free, I can continue to use both until my thoughts settle.

March 01, 2011

Registering accounts

When you register your account with EndNote Web or some other online tool, make sure that you associate it with an enduring e-mail address or that you remember your username and password!

A recent contact lost stored references in EndNote Web after changing institution and therefore e-mail address and fogetting the password to that account so that the e-mail address associated with it could not be changed.

November 23, 2010

EndNote: advanced tips for researchers

Writing about web page

EndNote is a kind of reference management software. There are plenty of other reference management softwares available, but EndNote is the one supported by the University.

There are two kinds of EndNote: the one that goes on your desktop and the one that is available over the Web. The Desktop version of EndNote is the most powerful one, offering more formatting styles for your reference lists and greater capacity for storage. IT Services run courses on how to use EndNote Desktop and will support the software so if you are having installation difficulties, get in touch with them. The Library supports the simpler Web version and that is what we usually demonstrate in sessions that we offer through the Research Student Skills Programme and the Window on Research series - although we do have advice for Desktop users as well (see below).

Many researchers will want the full power of EndNote Desktop, but you can store up to about 10,000 references on EndNote Web. There's a comparison of these two different software products, EndNote Web and EndNote Desktop available at:

You can have both EndNote Web and EndNote Desktop and regularly synchronise the two accounts, so that you can have the power of Desktop on the computer that you use most regularly and the advantage of access to your references over the Web, from wherever you are. Be careful to ensure that you synchronise regularly and in the right direction, if you are managing two such EndNote accounts!

In terms of organising your references, note that Endnote Desktop doesn't have "folders" of references, it has "groups" of references. Whenever you import references, always add them to a group immediately, or they will be cleared out of your account and you'll lose them if the network connection fails or when you sign out. Create a draft or temporary group and put them there if you intend to sort through them at a later date, and add imported references to it regularly throughout your searching session.

It is probably not a good idea to set up different EndNote accounts or libraries for different projects because you will not be able to use all these accounts with the "Cite while you write" function. If you try to, you will get separate references lists appearing in your document. So it's far better to have one EndNote Desktop library for all your projects and uses, whilst setting up different "groups" within that library. You could also use your own system of tags to categories your references into different sets. We recommend that you use the "Label" field rather than "Keywords" for this purpose because imported records often come with their own Keywords, and these will pollute your own set of tags if you haven't kept them in a separate field.

If you're having technical problems with the EndNote Desktop software itself and you are a member of the University of Warwick then you should direct your enquiry at IT Services.

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