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General History of Bibliographic Management

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Bibliographic Management - Past, Present, and Future!

Beginning in the 1980's digital bibliographic management has revitalized the ways in which researchers and scholars organize their sources. Thomson Reuters' Reference Manager was the first service offered in 1984, followed shortly by their EndNote and Sonny Software's Bookends in 1988. The early versions of the software were not open source, and all were pay services ranging from $99 to $299.95.

Interestingly, Thomson Reuters, the first provider of bibliographic management to Mac OS is the same service that provides news feeds to many different media outlets. Reuters is a source of information for media, and the company developed a way to organize sources.

"In the early days the main functions of personal bibliographic database programs were to provide a readily-accessible and searchable store of knowledge, and to act as an index to a reprint collection. Until the early 1990s these remained the main reasons for wanting to use such programs. Annotating and subject tagging references were important functions, but bibliography production was relatively unsophisticated. This was the era before end-user online searching so having access to your own personal database on your desktop was an advantage" (Norman).

As end users began to have the capability to search online it became readily apparant that people needed a way to organize the websites and sources they weeded through. The driving force behind the development of bibliographic management software was the increase in the publication of scientific articles. As the internet allowed more articles and journals to be published digitally, the need for a way to organize the information became clear and bibliographic management took off.

Reuters software dominated the market for four years, but upon the release of EndNote, Thomson Reuters slightly more expensive functionally cousin to their Reference Manager software, Sonny Software burst onto the scene with a $99 solution that works for both Apple and Mac operating systems. At the end of the 1990's the market really took off with new programs and the race to have cheaper, better software began. Thomson Reuters bibliographic management software remains one of the most expensive softwares to date.

As the technology advanced, more features were added to bibliographic management tools. The fact that a number of reference management software is Open Source allows for endless innovation. Each individual who knows how to code software is able to fit the software to suit his own needs. In the last ten years of reference management, word processing integration and seamless addition of citations into research are the most important innovations. From starting small, as a simple way to keep lists of sources to an overarching program that simplifies research organization, the possibilities for innovation are endless.

Currently there are over twenty different bibliographic management services. They range from free services to $299.99 for a single user license. The newest versions of popular softwares include many new features. Reference Manager 10 ($395.95), the newest release from Thomson Reuters includes Cite as You Write which mirror EndNote's latest technology. All the softwares seem to see which innovations their competitors unvail and release new versions accordingly. It's a giant technological keeping up with the Joneses.

Works Cited

Norman, Frank. "From Sci-Mate to Mendeley - a Brief History of Reference Managers - Trading Knowledge Blog | Nature Publishing Group." ELucidate (2010). Blogs: Home. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.