Saturday, August 13, 2011

Technology and the Research Process Part 6: Final Formatting

Once I've finished my main draft, I export the document from Scrivener to Mellel* to do the bibliography.  When I copy the source from Bookends into Scrivener it gets places between curly brackets {}.  In Mellel, I tell it to convert these to citations, and tell Bookends to scan the document, which puts the citations in the proper format and automatically generates a bibliography from them.  The technicalities of how this works depend on the word processor and bibliography software you are using, but you should be able to do this so long as your bibliography software support your word processing software (and they all support Word for example).  I still have to read through the bibliography to check for mistakes, but this is much easier for me than typing it all in by hand.

Once this is done, I convert it to a format that works for whoever I'm sending it to (my advisor, a journal, etc) and sent it off.  When I do revisions, I typically just do them in Mellel or Word**, with reference to my notes in Slipbox or new sources, rather than going back to Scrivener.

So, this concludes my series on technology and the research process.  I hope it will be helpful to those who like technology and use a similar research process to me.  I'd guess it would work well if you are an organized person who thinks in a non-linear fashion.  If you are just one of these, you might find parts helpful.  If you are neither, this whole process probably sounds dreadful.  Regardless, as I stated in the beginning, technology is a tool not a method.  You have to find the tools that fit your method, whether it is the programs I describe here, a word processor, index cards, or pen and paper.

I am also happy to answer questions about any of the programs and processes described here or to take recommendations on how I could improve my own process, so don't hesitate to ask/advise!

*The main reason I use Mellel is because it has very nice right to left support, in particular for mixing Arabic and English within a document.  Word for the Mac doesn't support right to left languages (even though everything else on the Mac does.  I'm convinced the only reason there's no support in Word is to prevent businesses in the Middle from buying Macs instead of PCs, although please correct me if you know otherwise).  If you don't need RTL support, you're probably better off sticking with Word so as to prevent formatting issues when sending your documents to people/journals.  

**I did eventually break down and buy Word for the PC part of my computer because I was so sick of having 2-3 different copies of all of my teaching activities, which I typically have to print off computers that are not mine.  But since it is on a different system, it doesn't play well with the rest of my programs so I only use if for final editing.


  1. I wonder if the ME even seems worth thinking about to Microsoft executives. In any case, if their aim was to keep the entire computer-buying public in the ME PC-true, they blew it. Macs are way more common in Research City than they were just a few years ago during my doctoral research. I asked a salesman at a Mac store what he did as a work-around for the lack of Arabic support, and he told me that whenever a customer buys a computer, he just opens the box, boots up the computer, and downloads NeoOffice right there in the store.

  2. At the personal level yes, it's a status thing too. I was thinking more of businesses, which have way more computers. Why else would they not support this, when everything else on the Mac does? Either way, it's incredibly frustrating, as I'm sure you know.