Bibliographies and reams of electronic photocopies

by Rhodri Buttrick on 8 March 2011


In a previous blog I wrote about the pros and cons of the Bibliography function in Microsoft Word. Overall I think this built-in feature is very useful, certainly quicker than the alternative of manually writing the Bibliography. 

Despite being more or less happy with the word Bibliography I thought I would try a more advanced Bibliography tool. A postgraduate in my university department recommended Citavi. Immediately I liked it as there is a free version of the software available for download.  The only drawback with this is that you're only allowed 100 references per project, for this you need to buy the full version of Citavi. This really isn't a drawback for me as being an undergraduate with a part-time social life I'm unlikely to read many more than 4 or 5 different books per essay.

Citavi is used for compiling the references which you use in your essay. For example say I want to cite a book in my essay. I can either input the information, such as publication date, author etc, manually. Or I can type in the ISBN number and it will find the information automatically via the internet. This is quicker than typing in the information manually.

However due to my dyslexia entering ludicrously long ISBNs can be a laborious and inaccurate process. I have noticed that if I were to have a bar code scanner attached to my laptop I would simply be able to scan the book’s bar code. This would solve the problem of miss typing ISBN numbers. I wonder where I can buy a bar code reader. Personally I find the most useful feature of the software to be the utility that allows you to attach a local file all web address to your reference.

Due to my difficulties with reading, any reading for my course has to be scanned into my computer and then read to me by the computer. This led to my laptop turning into a cluttered filing cabinet full of disorganised digital photocopies. I would find it very hard to organise my files so I knew which extracts where from which books and which essays they were supposed to be helping me with. With Citavi it is easy to track down these files as the reference for the book is linked to the Word document containing the material I have scanned. This simple function has saved me an extraordinary amount of time and probably helped me keep to deadlines.

Another ingenious addition to this tool is the Citavi Picker. This is a clever bit of software which integrates into your web browser and PDF reader. If I'm reading an online article all I need do is right click and there is an option for me to add the document as a reference. Capturing quotes is made very easy. All I need do is highlight the text right click and use the "add selection as quotation" function. The quote is then placed into Citavi under the book or document it came from. You then have to add a page number and a small description of the quote; this makes it easier to find it later. If I want to insert a quote into my essay I simply right click on the quote, I can then either put it on my clipboard inserted directly into Word. The quote then appears with a citation next to it. Citavi can appear complicated in places but overall it is a wonderful tool and has saved me lots of time while writing my essays.

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