Bibliographic software on a small budget

January 10, 1997

CITATION 7 Oberon Resources, Distributed in the UK by Michael Quinion Associates, +44 1454 411128, sales@quinion. demon.co.uk Single user Pounds 69.95+VAT; 10-user network pack Pounds 249.95+VAT. Demo version free from http://www.quinion. demon.co.uk/citation7/Windows diskette

Just as an aspiring word processor must be measured against Microsoft Word for Windows, Corel WordPerfect for Windows or Lotus Word Pro, so the MS-Windows bibliographic software standard is set by ProCite, Reference Manager and EndNote. Citation 7, an American product new to Europe, must be measured against this benchmark. If it fails to compete in terms of quality and features then there is only price to consider as a reason for selection.

Data input formats

Citation 7 scores well in terms of pre-defined data input formats, or record forms as it calls them. It comes equipped with 30 that cover the standard range of academic document types plus formats for archive material, legal records, Internet resources, films, notes and personal communications. There is also a format known as Full Record which includes all 25 available fields. This form is recommended for uses that do not fit any of the tailored forms. Citation 7 does not, however, offer the ability to create additional tailored forms or to change the field names of the existing ones. As an aid to data entry and consistency Citation 7 maintains useful field content lists (for the main fields) available at the click of a button.

Importing records from external sources

Citation 7 is limited in this department. Apart from conversion files for importing records from other bibliographic software packages there is no facility for importing records downloaded from CD-Rom or online databases. This is a severe limitation but I understand that this may be addressed in the "not too distant" future with the introduction of an import module that will be integrated into the main package at no extra charge.

Formatting and printing bibliographies

Citation 7 scores well in this area. Almost 1,000 pre-defined bibliographic styles are included in the basic package. This is an impressive number of formats and it includes the general standards such as APA, MLA, Chicago along with hundreds of named individual journal styles. It is likely that many more European styles will be added. Also included is the facility to write your own formats. As with other packages this requires patience and application but is worthwhile in the end. The bibliography can be output to an open file in your word processor, to the Windows clipboard or to a named file. An alternative is to use the Generate Citations feature which will scan your word-processed document (from within the word processor) for bracketed references, match these to records from your designated datafile, compile the bibliography and append it to your document. The match is made on the basis of a unique access key which normally takes the form of "author year" as in "Smith 1997".

Browsing and selecting records

This is another weakness for Citation 7. There is only one mode for viewing, and therefore for browsing the records. This is the full record mode. Other packages offer a very useful one-line browse mode for viewing either the whole database or a subset of records identified by a search: search results appear on the screen immediately, in browse mode, with an indication of the number of records retrieved.

Citation 7 searches do not indicate the outcome of the search; instead they are conducted record by record, backwards or forward throughout the datafile, using Search and Search Next. This is a slow and cumbersome process. A separate routine, called Select, will conduct a search with a view to saving the retrieved records to a separate file.

An ever-present horizontal slider offers a method of record selection and browsing. Dragging the block from left to right you can see the record number changing. Stop it at the record number you want and it will be displayed.

However, the records are presented in the order they were added to the database, not alphabetically by author.

Overall, Citation 7 is not in the same league as the market heavyweights in terms of breadth and depth of features. It suffers from not having a facility to import references downloaded from CD-Rom or online databases, and the searching and browsing leaves much to be desired.

However, it is easy to use, has a good range of input and output formats, integrates well with leading word processors, and offers excellent value for money. If Citation 8 addresses the weaknesses it could give the market leaders some real competition.

Terry Hanson is sub-librarian, University of Portsmouth.

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