5.0209 Bibliography Software (2/189)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Thu, 4 Jul 91 15:46:06 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0209. Thursday, 4 Jul 1991.

(1) Date: Wed, 03 Jul 91 15:30:56 BST (162 lines)
From: "S.A.Davnall" <ZLSIISA@CMS.MCC.AC.UK>
Subject: Bibliographic Software for PCs

(2) Date: Wed, 3 Jul 91 12:18 BST (27 lines)
From: "David Zeitlyn, ISCA, Oxford" <ZEITLYN@vax.oxford.ac.uk>
Subject: RE: 5.0204 Qs: ... Biblio SW

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Wed, 03 Jul 91 15:30:56 BST
From: "S.A.Davnall" <ZLSIISA@CMS.MCC.AC.UK>
Subject: Bibliographic Software for PCs

Bibliographic Software for PCs

In 1990, the University of Manchester, England, set up a bibliographic
software working party to find out what was on the market, examine the
most promising packages, and recommend one for University use. I have
hesitated to send our conclusions to Humanist, partly because they were
interim, partly because we did not have time for detailed evaluations, but
mainly because I felt that the comments, being directed at all the
Faculties of an English University, would be of limited interest to a group
with a wider geographical extent and a narrower discipline range. (In
addition, Manchester is a PC rather than a MAC based computing community.)
I still hesitate, but after the intermittent queries which have appeared
over the past few months, I feel I ought to contribute something. So here
follows a summary of the most relevant points from our brief interim report
and a subsequent comments paper.

After identifying about 20 products (including AskSam and Nota Bene but
not Citation, which we didn't hear about, or EndNote, which did not then
have a PC version), we decided on a short list of the following:

ideaList (British product, Blackwell Scientific Publications
Ltd, Osney Mead, Oxford OX2 0EL, UK, price 225
pounds plus VAT, 20% academic discount)
Library Master (Canadian product, Balboa Software, 61 Lorraine Drive,
Willowdale, Ontario M2N 2E3, Canada, price $US200,
student discounts etc available)
Papyrus (USA product, Research Software Design, 2718 Kelly St,
Suite 181, Portland, OR 97201, USA, price $99)
Pro-Cite (USA product, British Agent PBS Europe, Woodside,
Hinksey Hill, Oxford OX1 5AU, UK, British price
335pounds plus VAT plus bibliolinks (approx 135
pounds +VAT each) academic discounts neg.)

Subsequently, we added:

Reference Manager (USA product, British Agent Silver Platter
Information Ltd, 10 Barley Mow Passage, Chiswick,
London W4 4PH, UK, British price (full product) 440
pounds plus VAT, bulk purchase discounts available)

Other products missed the shortlist for a variety of reasons: lack of
facilities, lack of UK based support, cost, ...

We recommended that _Papyrus_ should be adopted as the University's
initial response to its bibliographic software requirement, as it
represented very good value for money. Although it has a major
disadvantage in that its user interface is old-fashioned and line-mode,
lacking pull-down menus or online help, it satisfactorily met our other
requirements: it has flexible and versatile bulk-import and
bibliography-formatting facilities, acceptable searching and sorting
capabilities, and a good interface to word-processors, which includes
generation of bibliographies from citations in a text, and an interface
allowing references to be viewed from the database while word-
processing. We felt that the price, together with the range of
facilities offered, meant that the University could benefit from
negotiating a site licence deal now for this, even if a further licence
were required later for an additional package. (A site-licence
arrangement is in process of being set up)

We see Papyrus as an acceptable package for personal bibliographic use
by most students and staff, especially those in the science, medical and
social science faculties. However, it does have limitations that make
it unsuitable for all uses.

The limitation of particular concern to humanities users is that Papyrus
can only handle six reference types (books, book chapters, journal
articles, theses, patents and maps), all with pre-defined contents. It
would be difficult, therefore, to store references to manuscript
collections or some types of editions of texts. For users with these
requirements, Library Master, which was designed with the humanities user
in mind and can handle up to 50 user-defined reference types, would be much
more satisfactory. It can also be used for note taking, which makes it
attractive as a more general research tool. The bulk-import utility is
somewhat inflexible in that it expects the data to conform to a one-field-
per-line format, so some cleaning up of the references may be necessary
either before or after importing (Library Master's macro facility can be
employed to make this relatively easy). Papyrus, by contrast, can cope with
almost any format which is not actually ambiguous. In addition, when we
explored it the import utility proved not to be particularly robust,
although a new release has now fixed the bugs which we found. Bibliography
creation facilities were fairly versatile. However, Library Master cannot
yet generate bibliographies from citations in a text, although this feature
is promised, as is the ability to handle non-roman character sets. With
these two features added, Library Master would be very attractive indeed
for Humanities users. The package has plenty of on-line help and a screen
based user interface, although this has some idiosyncracies. One evaluator
found these charming, one loathed them, and I scarcely noticed them!

The other main limitation of Papyrus has already been mentioned: the old-
fashioned line-mode user interface, which makes manual data entry and
updating rather tedious, and the absence of pull-down menus. Two users,
satisfied with the copies which they have bought for themselves, said
that we made too much of this - they find it easy to use - but I would
guess that many computer users nowadays expect to use forms-based data-
entry and to have pull-down menus, and would feel uncomfortable with less.
For these users, _ideaList_, which has the increasingly familiar Microsoft-
style screen and menu layout, might be an attractive alternative, although
we found its importing and bibliography creating capability much less
flexible. Specifically, it is less rigorous than the other products
towards the format of records. Although this makes it easier to use at the
casual level, it means that it is not likely to produce accurate
bibliographies without considerably more effort than would be required for
other, less user-friendly but more rigorous packages. (A new version,
recently received, may address this. I haven't had time to explore it yet.)

Two users who are planning to set up departmental reference sources
commented that the absence of on-line help would make Papyrus
unsatisfactory for open access by unsupervised students and researchers. As
these, and the majority of other enquirers, were from biomedical
departments, it seemed sensible to look into a package aimed at their
particular disciplines, which was why _Reference Manager_ was added to the
list of products. This package has a very attractive interface, so
straightforward to use that users might not need the on-line help which is
provided. The software had all the desired features, including the ability
to run concurrently with a word-processor. However, as in Papyrus, the
number of reference types handled is limited and pre-defined, which would
reduce its usefulness for humanities users. In addition, its bulk-import
facility is more inflexible than that of Library Master, and fussy too,
which means that a user would probably have to spend time formatting
references before they could be imported. (We have heard of one person who
uses Papyrus' import/export facilities as an interface between his on-line
citations source and Reference Manager, a most interesting approach which
might be applicable elsewhere too.)

Our librarians were concerned that although Papyrus' bulk-loading
capability is very versatile, they could not be sure that it would be
completely problem-free. For this reason they liked the BiblioLink
approach of Pro-Cite (considered to be the market leader in the library
world). They envisaged that departments and individuals could install
copies of Pro-Cite, while the Libraries held the BiblioLinks, thus enabling
them to provide the user with a ready-formatted file which could be
guaranteed to load into a Pro-Cite database without giving any trouble.
However, no BiblioLink is yet available for DataStar, the main on-line host
used at this University. Moreover, unlike the other products, Pro-Cite does
not use indexing, so searching can be very slow when the database gets
large. Both indexing and DataStar are promised for 1991, but neither has
appeared in Great Britain yet, as far as I know. Pro-Cite provided most of
the other desired features, including comprehensive reference type
definitions. I found the huge number of fields rather confusing, although
I understand that the definitions can be tailored to remove unwanted
fields. I suspect that most British academics would consider Pro-Cite too
expensive, but it might be an appropriate product for departmental
reference sources where importing of down-loaded citations is a major part
of the maintenance.

The bibliographic working-party concluded that it should remain in
existence and re-evaluate the products when anticipated enhancements were
available. In addition, we would add to the list any new products which
came to our notice and looked promising. The PC version of Endnote might be
such an addition, although I have been told that it is not very robust.
If we do get to repeat our exercise, I will endeavour to report again on
our findings.

Mrs. Sarah Davnall (S.Davnall@Manchester.ac.uk)
Manchester Computing Centre, University of Manchester, England
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------34----
Date: Wed, 3 Jul 91 12:18 BST
From: "David Zeitlyn, ISCA, University of Oxford, UK" <ZEITLYN@vax.oxford.ac.uk>
Subject: RE: 5.0204 Qs: Naming a mediator; Biblio SW (2/38)

The institute of social and culturl anthropology, university of oxford,
UK now has been using both IBM (Wordperfect compatable) and MAC versions
of niles and Associates Endnote program - generally we're VERY pleased.
The programs look and feel the same on both machines and the same
datafiles can be used... Wonderful 0 we've quickly accumulated a
large-ish] central file of frequently used references which all can
use... Grouses - the output formats cannot yet be shared, - searching
for Author last name is fine, but author-plus-initial is ridicuously
more complicated. The MAc version exists in upgraded form Endnote-Plus
which has beeter searching I hope the IM version of this will soon be

I have seen and breifly used Porcite which is far clumsier to use (on
the MAC) but is more powerful - in particular you can save your search
criteris - if endnote could do this it would be very very good,. Also
the import from Refer format isnt foolproof - problems with articles in
editted books - I bodged it in the end - and can let you have details if

Hope this helps
I am in no way connected to Niles and would definietly recommend endnote.
david zeitlyn