17/11/2009

Reference managers: advice needed

I’ve recently been having another look at reference managers, and my interest has been piqued by Sente. At the moment, I use Papers for searching for papers, auto-filling the bibliographic meta-data and reading them, then I export to BibTeX format and import to BibDesk. This works OK, but it doesn’t really cover citing references and formatting bibliographies unless I’m writing in LaTeX: sometimes I have to resort to Pages (exporting/importing Word format) to collaborate on documents with colleagues.

I’ve been playing with the Sente demo, and while I much prefer the UI of Papers (and to some extent, the method of importing references in Papers), the note-taking features in Sente 6 are brilliant, and the bibliography formatting works very nicely. Exporting notes to DEVONthink Pro, and adding to them there works beautifully, and then you get the power of the terrific AI searching abilities of DEVONthink too. I’m nervous about entrusting my precious PDF collection to the bowels of the Sente document bundle, so I would probably just link to the PDFs and manually sync the documents using Dropbox. I like the range of import/export formats in Sente, so I would plan on exporting the whole lot (or a subset relevant to a particular manuscript) to a BibTeX file periodically to enable LaTeX authoring, with Sente as the master collection.
So, my academic lazyweb question is this: have any of you had experience of using Sente for serious academic reference collections? Is it good enough to search for, read, make notes on papers and use for referencing on it’s own? I’m getting a bit tired of using multiple applications, excellent though Papers is, in many ways.

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