SAN FRANCISCO (02/22/2000) - For a researcher whose livelihood depends on churning out academic publications, a reference manager is a godsend. By automating the most burdensome steps in research writing - tracking references, formatting citations, and compiling bibliographies - reference-management software can cut days off a large project. Papyrus 8.0.5, the latest release of Research Software Design's reference manager, handles the job competently without breaking your budget.
We were impressed by the quality and depth of the program's printed documentation, which includes an excellent introduction to bibliographic concepts. Papyrus also provides extensive context-sensitive help and summaries of shortcuts, both in HTML format. Cash-strapped researchers will appreciate Research Software Design's license agreement, which permits individual members of a research group to install Papyrus on their own computers, as long as everyone uses the same reference database. (Two users cannot make simultaneous changes to a single database file over a network, however.)With 59 different fields, 16 predefined reference types, and a database capacity of 16 million records, Papyrus can likely handle whatever you throw at it. Papyrus even provides a field for pictures; alas, the program stores the actual images instead of just pointing to them, so databases that incorporate graphics can grow extremely large.
You can import references-saved as text files-from a variety of sources, including online and offline reference collections, as well as bibliographic database programs such as ISI ResearchSoft's EndNote and ProCite. However, unlike EndNote, Papyrus doesn't let you search for and retrieve references directly from Z39.50-compliant online databases such as the National Library of Medicine's PubMed.
Transferring citations into a word-processing document isn't as convenient as in ProCite, which lets you search for references without leaving Microsoft Word. The search dialog box, which doesn't include such text-specific operators as "begins with" or "contains," is also less straightforward than ProCite's.
Once you've located the correct references, you have to copy or drag them into your manuscript. When you're ready, Papyrus formats the in-text citations and generates a bibliography. Papyrus supports documents created with Microsoft Word versions 5 through 98, WordPerfect 3.X, or Nisus Writer 5.X. Otherwise, you have to save your document as a plain text or RTF file before Papyrus can format it.
Macworld's Buying Advice
Although it lacks some amenities, this comprehensive reference manager should satisfy most research authors' needs. At only $99 for the CD-ROM version, Papyrus is a bargain that's hard to pass up.
RATING: 3.5 mice
PROS: Inexpensive; comprehensive documentation.
CONS: Cumbersome search tools; no direct online database retrieval.
COMPANY: Research Software Design (503/796-1368, http://www.rsd.com).
LIST PRICE: Full version, $139; CD-ROM only, $99; online download, $89.