And a few faculty members have tried the software for their own research and then gone back to tried-and-true manual methods. One is Lowell Turner, a professor of international and comparative labor and collective bargaining at Cornell. He says his graduate research assistants urged him to use RefWorks, but he found that the program couldn’t quickly or easily import a career’s worth of bibliographic material, in a variety of formats.
Another similar point, though this one hitting on the data model theme I’ve focused on extensively here:
He’s not alone. Even though legal scholarship follows exceedingly detailed citation rules that seemingly would be well suited to a computer program, legal scholars as a whole avoid citation software, says Kevin M. Clermont, a law professor at Cornell. Legal scholars often cite arcane documents from around the world, which citation software has difficulty handling, he said.
“It’s by light years not sophisticated enough to handle our problems,” he says.
Yup, I feel his pain, and unless MS fixes their data modelling approach, I’m afraid their new support won’t work for him either. Am hoping we can get it right at OpenOffice though.
Finally, on the costs:
Since November 2003, almost 11,000 people at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities have registered for RefWorks, and they have stored a total of 570,000 references on RefWorks’ servers …
How much do they pay for this? $12,500 per year.
Sigh … so how much would it take to build a better open source solution using PostgreSQL and Ruby on Rails? If each institution that had such a site license put, say, $500 in a pot? No, that doesn’t include all the support issues involved in such an enterprise, but how hard can that really be?
Regretably, the article focuses solely on RefWorks and Endnote. There’s no mention at all about the forthcoming support in Word, nor the OpenOffice work I’m involved in. In both cases, these efforts will offer superior integrated citation formatting support to word processors.
Likewise, there’s no mention of interesting developments in the world of free services and software like Connotea and CiteULike. Admittedly, neither of these are general enough to serve as real substitutes, but I think it’s only a matter of time before they are.
So nice to see the article, though it seems strangely dated.