The why: Keeping a Bibliography

I am actively looking in this workflow now. I have been using Zotero to keep track of my bookmarks. The workflow isn’t perfect, but I think it is better than the commercial solutions out there.

Keeping a list of all the publications that you read (or just collected) about a certain topic is the cornerstone of scholarship. Of course, writing papers is important, but showing that you know how these papers fit into the grand scheme of things, is crucial in your journey to become a researcher. Plus, acknowledging the work of others is polite and humble—it demonstrates that, despite all the strides we make in research, we can only be successful if we work together and share our knowledge.

On the pragmatic level, establishing a bibliography will make it easier for you to summarise papers and, ultimately, generate ideas1. It will also provide you with a sense of accomplishment—after all, reading papers is also a large part of research and should be acknowledged as such. At the end of your Ph.D., when writing your thesis, your main bibliography will2 contain dozens of papers, which you should have at least skimmed at some point. Moreover, there will also be a handful of papers that you refer to so often that you know like the back of your hand. It is quite likely that, barring major changes3 in your research directions, your bibliography will keep on growing and benefiting you for many years to come. Hence, it pays off to do this the right way from the beginning.

There are several open-source solutions related to BibTex files, but I haven’t been able to wrap my head around them. Zotero works fine, for most use cases but it is also a pain to set up- for example, it doesn’t play well with Dropbox and requires an antiquated system called as WebDav. Yup; in the name of open source, they overcharge for the storage solution.

However, the central idea is to keep one and share it widely. I am planning to do it soon and figure out a solution to update it continuously. I usually don’t move without automating the process, and unless it can be done, it would cease to have any meaning. Manual curation is too much of a work,

via Keeping a Bibliography

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