Dakota State University makes the bibliographic management program EndNote available to students through the Mundt Library (I know I downloaded a copy from the Mundt website… but I can’t remember where!). Our tuition or student fees or tax dollars are paying for it, so I guess it can’t hurt to use it.

But you and our university can find a cheaper and better alternative for managing your research sources and notes in Zotero, an open-source bibliography manager that a fellow student introduced me to last spring. I dig it… and so does the National Science Foundation. NSF has been using Zotero in-house for a while, and they’re sufficiently satisfied that they’ve hired the Zotero.org team to build a customized version for them.

So consider: if the software is good enough for the people you’re begging for grants, might it be good enough for you?

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Among the things I hate:

  1. IEEE style. I hate reading sentences like “Different approaches on word sense disambiguation are reviewed in [46].” Where’d the people go? And just try keeping your citations straight when you write a paper in IEEE. Add one new source whose lead author’s last name happens to start with A, and you have to go back through the entire paper and change all of your citation numbers. (I don’t care if you can automate the process with Word; a good research paper format should be workable manually.)
  2. PDFs… especially of papers in IEEE format. Columns never caught on in HTML; so why should I be stuck reading all these execrable two-column papers on my computer screen in inflexible PDF format? It’s guaranteed that a two-column journal page will never fit on my screen, so I’m stuck scrolling down and back up again through the whole paper. Annoying! Columnar format is an artifact of paper. I might as well be reading punch cards. Cut it out: I want all papers in single-column format. Better yet, I want them in HTML, so I can size the page whatever way I want, with nice fluid linebreaks.
  3. Ira Glass—just because I needed to complete the triple for literary effect. In radio for three decades, and he still mumbles. Aaaacckk!

I’m putting together a paper on municipal wireless networks (Muni Wi-fi) for INFS 750. Here’s the first small batch of articles I tracked down for the annotated bibliograpjy assignment: (more…)