The answer is simple: the one that works best for you.
This blog arose from speaking to some PhD students and ECRs who, when asked why they used they used X piece of software, answered that it was because it’s the one their supervisor or spouse used, or that it was the one which was promoted by the Department. There is nothing wrong with this, but it may not be their best choice.
The question of what reference software to use is one that, in all honesty, I spent more time and intellectual horsepower on during the first few months of my PhD than I spent on actual research. However, at the time, I had very little experience in doing PhD level research or writing, so I made sub-optimal choices. Having now settled on a system (after having a bit more researching/writing experience), I’ve outlined some of the points which I think are important to evaluate when it comes choosing software.
N.B. – most of this comes down to personal choice. There are no absolutes as the optimal choice will be determined by your writing and research style, and your comfort with using software. This post won’t tell you what software you should use, but it may help you ensure what you are using is the best choice for you.
In the main, your reference software should:
- Make it easy to store articles that you have read
- Make it easy to keep a record of books that you have read
- Produce citations in the styles which are relevant to you
However, there are a few other things that are important to think about.
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