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Five Minute Review: EndNote Version 8

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ISI repeatedly sent me review copies of EndNote when I wrote for American Libraries, but I only looked at this research and citation product once or twice back then. Now I find myself juggling hundreds of citations for my writing, so I downloaded the demo for version 8 from their site. I had some trepidation, because version 8 has incompatibilities with Windows XP Service Pack 2, and the patch for it won’t work on the demo download. But the only thing that crashed on installation was the Palm extension, and I do not do much data entry on my Treo. It could happen, but I doubt it.

In brief, what a joy EndNote 8 is–a qualified joy, but a joy nonetheless. I had a new “library” (Endnote collection file) set up in seconds, then quickly used the Z39.50 “Connect” tool to scoot into several major catalogs, such as MIT. I paused and restarted searches, dragged citations into my library, tweaked and buffed, reset styles, sorted references, twiddled preferences, and all in all had a bang-up time, automating references I’d had sitting in paper folders or on a flash drive for almost a year.

With journal articles, I had less success. I tried using the Connect command to access Infotrac (which I was logged in to at the time via my school connection), but it left me scratching my head, and ISI tech support wasn’t that helpful here. I think the correct answer is “forget it, unless you’re using a proxy or your school has been thoughtful enough to set up a Z39.50 connection for that database,” but the tech support person struggled with my questions.

I was able to email Infotrac articles to myself, then import them with the EndNote filter; this was not perfect (EndNote glommed a lot of the information into the Notes field), but worked better than ProQuest, which refused all attempts to be imported, even after using the filter recommended by the librarians at my school. My school doesn’t have export/download options implemented for most (if any) of the terrific suite of databases it offers, which may be part of the problem. So, assuming I stick with this product (less than $100 for the academic version), I’ll be copying and pasting citation information into my copy of EndNote. Sigh.

Cite While You Write is wonderful. Using Word 2003, I was able to add, delete, modify, annotate and otherwise have my way with a slew of citations in a mock “document.” Many format options, many tricks and tools; well done.

Despite the barriers and frustrations, nice product.

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