For college students coping with the challenges of writing in new and overwhelming citation styles (APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, AMA, etc.), it can be tempting to hand over the responsibility of accurate representation to automatic citation generators such as EasyBib or EndNote. However, do not be fooled. While these tools have many benefits, they are learning tools that make as many mistakes as they do effectively guide. Nothing can or should replace knowing how to accurately cite sources in the style you are writing in, and no matter how effective your writing aids are being it’s your eyes and mind that will always have to double check the work of the machines.
This blog will go over the risks and benefits of EasyBib and EndNote, highlighting where they are helpful and where they could trip up young writers. If you’re interested in purchasing a sample comparative essay like this one, Ultius offers a large variety for you to choose from along with many different other writing services to help ensure your paper looks professional and accurate.
EasyBib or Endnote comparative essay: Automatic learning?
EasyBib and EndNote are primarily used as automatic citation generators, but that is by no means there only function. Reviews and studies of these apps are all over the charts, with no consistency other than their inconsistency. However, this is consistent with the rates of success of the apps, and should give students pause when placing their trust in an algorithm. Bottom line, we are not yet in the age of artificial intelligence or even strongly consistent software which can out-perform a willful human mind.
Conducting your own research is critical. So, while EasyBib and EndNote can be helpful for getting to know citation styles formatting, they cannot replace the manuals of style which are available for each style. These citation styles change and are updated much more regularly than the applications which implement them are, and must not be relied upon (Van Ullen and Kessler 48). Educators rightly place great stock in accurate citation in order to avoid plagiarism, and to accurately engage in the scholarly discussion. Therefore, you must double check your work if you want full marks, and in so doing you will learn to master each citation style in time.
Sample essay comparisons between EasyBib and EndNote?
While EasyBib has some benefits, it can be deceptively wrong. Looking at the inception of the application sheds some light on how and why this is. The founders of the cite share;
We found that the most tedious part of our paper wasn’t the writing or the researching, but the bibliography itself. We had to constantly refer to our citation guides to figure out how to cite sources and where to put the periods, commas, and underlines. Needless to say, we thought this would be a perfect application for the Web. After a few months of figuring out all the bibliography rules and coding the site, the first version of EasyBib launched in February 2001. (Burkhardt)
In their own words, the creators of EasyBib took only a few months to encode all there is to know about the various academic style guides. This is not enough time, and in order to learn the styles backwards and forwards at least a consistent year’s work is needed, and that is not even including how the styles’ rules are being changed and updated. This explains a lot of why the citation machine fails so often.
One of the benefits of EasyBib is that once you have an account you can have multiple projects going on at once, and this can be a good way to keep different classwork separate. Also, in these projects resources can be easily saved. Another benefit to the site during this time of web research is a Website Evaluation Tool, created to “help users understand which sites are reliable to use for research. The have evaluated the top 50% of sources cited on EasyBib to determine their credibility” (Provenzano). However, when using this function credibility must be balanced in the context of what you are reaching. For instance, while EasyBib may cite TMZ.com as a credible site, it may not be a credible source for a PhD level paper.
What Makes a Credible Website? Source: EasyBib.com
Here are some of the most important elements of a credible website worth of being documented as a source in your work.
This is one example of how the site is a guide, but not an independent tool to be blindly trusted. The Website Evaluation Tool may be one of the most helpful features of the site, and the questions it asks to establish credibility can be used in many other source searching situations. The Purdue Owl Research and Citation Resource is the most accurate and credible way to cite in MLA, APA, and Chicago (The McDaniel College Writing Center).
As opposed to EasyBib, EndNote is not free, and is a multiplatform software tool that will take a bit of work to get to know how to use. A strong benefit of this tool is that:
In addition to using EndNote on your smartphone, tablet, or desktop, you also have access to the EndNote website, where you can connect with your University library system to search for millions of research papers and journal articles. (Woodward)
EndNote begins with a free trial period, which will help you decide if it is worth the investment (Western Libraries).
For citations, EndNote has been found to be more accurate, but still is not 100%, and double-checking is a must. For projects of major importance, many utilize the editing services from Ultius to help ensure accuracy. EndNote does provide a strong sync in Microsoft Word which is helpful;
- From Word, you just put the cursor where you want to place the citation and then click on Insert Citation on the EndNote toolbar.
- Next, tell EndNote what you want to cite and using what citation style, click on Insert, and voila!
- Your citation appears next to the text, exactly the way you need it to look — assuming your source records are complete, of course.
- EndNote will do the same thing for the figure and table references in your document — automatically number and cite your figures, illustrations, tables, and other numbered elements. (Woodward)
In a very helpful function, EndNote automatically builds your bibliography as you work and allows you to choose your citation style in the toolbar as you go. Keep in mind, however, that it’s not perfect – there are a lot of different types of media out there and citation-generating programs often get confused. If you find yourself confused as well, don’t fret! This is exactly the point at which many of our clients consider the option of buying an annotated bibliography from Ultius. Researchers emphasize:
EndNote does a lot for you, but ultimately you’re still the one responsible for the details. Each time you add a new source, be sure to take the time right then and there to fill in any missing details in the record that EndNote didn’t pick up from the file. (Woodward)
It appears that the greatest benefit of EndNote is the syncing connectivity between the web, the app, and Word which allows for a seamless transfer and collection of information (EndNote.com).
The many functions of EndNote, once they are learned, enables you to organize the working process all in one place:
- Groups can sort your research into topical folders and optionally share them with cohorts or co-workers.
- Format tab helps you automate the process of formatting your paper or portions thereof. (It’s also where you find the plug-in for Word.)
- Match: Plug in the title and abstract for your manuscript, and EndNote will suggest some journals to which you might want to submit your article for publishing. The suggestions are based on an analysis of the abstract content.
- Options, as you might suspect, is the catch-all spot for account preferences and controls, such as changing your password, editing your profile, or changing the default language.
- Connect is EndNote’s venture into social media and crowd-sourcing research. It’s still under development so it’s not particularly active at the moment, but that could change as soon as it officially launches. (Woodward)
Conclusion to sample comparative essay on EasyBib or Endnote
In the total immersion of college writing tools like EasyBib and EndNote can be very helpful. However, they can also create more work for you as you 1) Have to learn how to use them, and 2) Have to double check all their work. The Perdue online writing labs, and Ultius.com have the information on how to cite correctly, and ultimately there is no way around learning how to do proper citations. This blog offered some of the pros and cons, and when this is understood such apps can be applied to research with confidence.
Burkhardt, Andy. “A Tale of Two Citation Tools.” Andy Burkhardt, 11 Jul. 2011. http://andyburkhardt.com/2011/07/11/a-tale-of-two-citation-tools/.
Provenzano, Nick. “It’s an Easy Choice! My Review of EasyBib.” The Nerdy Teacher, 18 Apr. 2011. http://www.thenerdyteacher.com/2011/04/its-easy-choice-my-review-of-easybib.html.
The McDaniel College Writing Center. “How Easy IS EasyBib?” The McDaniel College Writing Center. MCDANIELWRITING, 2 Nov. 2012. https://writingcenter.mcdaniel.edu/how-easy-is-easybib/.
EndNote.com. “EndNote.” Quick Reference Guide. Thomas Reuters, 2016. http://endnote.com/sites/en/files/m/pdf/enx7-mac-qrg.pdf.
Van Ullen, M.K. & Kessler, J. “Citation Apps for Mobile Devices.” 2016. Reference Services Review 44(1), 48-60. https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/RSR-09-2015-0041.
Western Libraries. “Benefits of Using Citation Management Tools.” Video & How Tos. Western University, 2016. https://www.lib.uwo.ca/tutorials/benefitsofusingcitationmanagementtools/.
Woodward, Michael. “What Is EndNote?” John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2016. http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/what-is-endnote.html.