Kessler, Jane and Mary K. Van Ullen. "Citation Generators: Generating Bibliographies for the Next Generation." The Journal of Academic Librarianship 31.4 (July 2005): 310-316.
I read the article via OmniFile.
Upfront, I will admit that I am not a fan of citation generators. I know a lot of people out there swear by them, but personally I prefer to do citations manually for my papers. However, I do get the question about these tools about once or twice a semester from students. I usually tell them my personal preference, but I do encourage them to experiment with the tools and see how they like them in the hopes they will judge them for themselves. Additionally, our library links to some of the online versions as part of our pages on how to cite sources. I do note that our campus does not own any of the software that can be purchased for this purpose. Overall, my I got interested when I saw this article. I am going to jot down some quotes and ideas from the article with a bit of my thoughts on the matter.
- "Use of these tools might relieve some of the tedium from information literacy assignments and allow students to focus on understanding why and when to cite. However, some librarians question whether students will learn to cite properly if they do not learn to do it manually first" (310-311).
- What the study aimed to do: "The focus of this study was to examine two of the new Web-based programs and one PC-based program and compare them for accuracy, ease of use, and suitability for an undergraduate environment. The study also attempted to determine the extent to which academic libraries are recommending or supporting these products" (311). They looked at NoodleBib, EasyBib, and EndNote 6.0.
- "Although EndNote is widely supported, libraries vary widely in the extent of support. Some libraries limit support to linking to the tip sheets, interactive tutorial, and technical support available at the EndNote site. Other libraries provide guides to choosing bibliographic management software, including product comparison charts and information about special academic pricing. Many libraries offer detailed information about using EndNote with the library's databases and catalog, including the necessary import filters and connection files. There were also detailed online tutorials developed by the libraries and specifically tailored to the library" (312).
From the conclusions then:
- "Personal bibliographic citation managers such as EndNote are widely used by faculty and graduate students and are being supported by librarians. For undergraduates, these programs have several drawbacks: they are expensive, have an extensive learning curve, and perform unnecessary functions for undergraduate assignments. Recently developed Web-based citation generators such as NoodleBib and EasyBib offer an alternative. They are inexpensive, portable, easy to use, and perform the functions undergraduates need" (315).
- "Should these new citation generators be recommended to students and supported by libraries? If used properly, these programs can produce accurate citations and bibliographies" (315).
- "As new citation generators are developed, students and faculty will look to librarians for guidance on which product to select and support in using the product. Librarians should be proactive in regard to these programs and take the role of educator and consultant, as described by Strube et.al., by becoming familiar with the products available and guiding users to the best ones" (315).
- "However, these products are not a substitute for learning how to prepare a citation manually. They are not 100 percent accurate. Students need an understanding of proper citation format in order to detect errors in automatically generated citations" (315).
- "Therefore, instruction on citation generators by librarians should include a sense of the limitations of these programs as well as the fact that the ultimate responsibility for accurate citations rests with the user" (316).