Paper Writing and Reference Management Tips

Here are my suggested tips for working with references when writing papers and a thesis. If you are working with me you must use this system. This is good news for you, though, because I already have already done extensive searches this will actually save you a tremendous amount of time.

I have found the following to be the best strategy: 

Use Word  

I used to use latex, but today I feel Word is the best choice, particuarly for the type of papers that I'm usually writing. Those I work with need to use Word because it has excellent "track changes" options that make collaborative editing go smoothly. Latex has some nice properties, but overall at this point I feel Word wins out.  

Use endnote

I have found Endnote to be a good citation manager. Endnote is also the de facto standard among academics who do not use Latex/bibtex. Endnote is substantially better than using Bibtex because Endnote can connect with the electronic databases and save you a huge amount of typing. You can also use it to store your personal notes on papers you read and abstracts downloaded from the web. For information on using Endnote at MIT see this website. Read the manual so you are using Endnote properly before adding too many references. 

Keep an archive of papers

These days many papers are available electronically, either directly from the web or from the electronic databases the library gives you access to. When you find a paper, download the paper and save it using the following naming convention. For example, for a paper written in 1993 with authors Intille, Davis, and Bobick you would use the name IntilleDavisBobick97.pdf. For a paper written in 2001 by Sonny and Cher you would use the name SonnyCher01.pdf.  To save typing, if there are more than three authors then just use the first author's name followed by ETAL and the year: e.g. FirstETAL03.pdf

Saving the papers makes it easier for you later when you need to go back and check information. It also allows our group to build up a local digital library of relevant papers. I already have many papers in this format.   The naming convention is the same used in the Endnote database and in latex cites, as you will see. 

Add papers to Endnote

When you find a paper add it to Endnote. The best way to do this is via a direct electronic link: saves you typing and minimizes typos. You will want to make the following modifications: 

Last updated: 9/28/10