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I'm a second year PhD student. In general I love my advisor, but recently we've run into some small bumps in the road while working on a paper together. He's controlling the "master" copy and I send most of my contributions and comments through email for him to incorporate.

A few days into the process, we had a conversation that went something like this...

Me: "Hey, so I cited a few papers you might not have seen. How do you keep track of your references? I use JabRef to keep up with BibTex entries, but I can export those citations to a bunch of different formats..."

Advisor: "What are you talking about?"

Me: "Like, when you need to make your references section... how do you keep track of all the papers you've cited in the text? Refworks? Endnote? Zotero?"

Advisor: "What? ...I use the 'copy/paste' method."

I was baffled by that answer. I know he's been doing this for a long time with good success, but I cannot fathom someone who has been collaborating with so many people for so many years is still at the level of manually formatting each entry in a Microsoft Word document and then copying/pasting over whenever that reference is needed elsewhere.

Any suggestions on how I can help bring this faculty member into the 21st century without seeming presumptuous?

1 Answer 1

Endnote doesn't work on linux. Refworks came into existence in 2001 and is a website, it could disappear any time. Zotero is only 6 years old.

Programs come and go, websites come and go. Text files keep working. They are easy to search, easy to maintain, easy to move between operating systems.

Your supervisor has been around a lot longer than you. Perhaps they have discovered that fancy databases are not worth the extra work they involve, particularly if (like me), they've had a couple of products they love get discontinued over the years.