Bibliographies Made Easy: A Look at PRO-CITE
Knauth, Michael, Computers in Libraries
Bibliographies Made Easy: A Look at PRO-CITE
In the past, creating bibliographies, no matter the type, purpose, or length, could be time-consuming drudgery. Sources would be selected, bibliographic information compiled and organized in the correct format, making sure all punctuation rules were being followed correctly, and finally, horror of horrors, the bibliography would be typed and often retyped many times.
Word processing certainly made the process less frustrating, but now with PRO-CITE and its BIBLIO-LINK companion programs, which are produced by Personal Bibliographic Software, it is easy to compile and maintain accurate, correctly formatted bibliographies, sometimes with little or no manual input, and with no knowledge of the rules or requirements of formatting styles.
The versatility of PRO-CITE is excellent. Twenty predefined workforms for twenty types of documents -- from books and journal articles, to music scores and art works, to audiovisual material and computer programs -- and six user-defined workforms allow virtually any type of material to be included in a bibliography.
Also, PRO-CITE's ability to handle up to 32,500 records with variable-length fields (a maximum of 16,000 characters) makes it possible to create bibliographies as simple as a list of references for a research paper or as complex as a catalog for a small library collection.
While the PRO-CITE program can be used alone by manually entering bibliographic data into workforms, it is BIBLIO-LINKS that make PRO-CITE such a labor-saving wonder. BIBLIO-LINKS are reformatting programs that convert records downloaded from online database systems directly into PRO-CITE records. With a BIBLIO-LINK, there is no manual entry.
Simply download records as you normally would, start the BIBLIO-LINK program, enter the path and name of the file containing the downloaded records, enter the name of the PRO-CITE file you are about to create, and then press one key to translate and transfer the records. BIBLIO-LINK will analyze the downloaded records to determine document type and store the data in the appropriate PRO-CITE workform, putting fields from the downloaded record into the correct PRO-CITE fields.
It is that easy to create a PRO-CITE file. Separate BIBLIO-LINKS are available for DIALOG, BRS, OCLC, RLIN, LS2000, NOTIS, MUMS, SCORPIO, and MEDLARS; arrangements can be made with Personal Bibliographic Software to design customized BIBLIO-LINKS.
Features and Performance
Once you have created a PRO-CITE database, you can edit, format, sort, index, and print. The editing features are basic word-processing functions: word wrap; insert or overwrite characters by toggling the insert key; blocking to copy, move, or delete text; global find-and-replace to automatically find and replace each occurrence of a word or phrase. Anyone even minimally familiar with word processing will be able to use these editing features. You can also quickly and easily insert and delete entire records while in the editing mode, which means that bibliographies can be updated in minutes--one of PRO-CITE's finest qualities.
If you expect to manually add a large number of records, PRO-CITE's pop-up authority lists can help you to standardize author and journal names and index terms. Authority lists can be created (and eventually edited) with a word processor or can be automatically generated from terms already entered in any field of your database.
The layout and formatting of your bibliography is controlled from an options screen (Figure 1). Margins, spacing, lines per page options, etc., are set from this screen. Unfortunately, once these options are set there is no flexibility; each and every page of your document will be printed in this uniform layout. If, for example, you need certain pages of your bibliography printed with different margins or lines spacing, it cannot be done as it could be with most word processing programs.
An excellent feature of PRO-CITE is the ease with which it handles different bibliographic styles. Simply set the options screen to choose the ANSI (American National Standard Institute) format, PRO-CITE's default punctuation file, or one of the other styles provided, such as APA, MLA, Science, Chicago Manual of Style, Turabian, UMI, or PROOF. Pro-CITE will automatically arrange and punctuate each citation correctly.
A small problem with the punctuation files that are provided, though, is that more fields are included than is necessary for most purposes. Judicious editing of these punctuation files will easily solve the problem.
Additionally, you could create any number of your own special punctuation files by using PRO-CITE's Style feature. The ability to quickly change or create bibliographic styles will be of particular interest to scholars who send research papers to different publishers and to academic librarians who might have to create subject bibliographies for many different curriculums.
PRO-CITE can control and manipulate bibliographic records in other ways, too. If you find that a bibliography arranged alphabetically by author needs to be rearranged chronologically and within each year by subject, PRO-CITE will sort it in minutes; in fact, you can sort your records on most any field or fields up to six levels.
Using the Sort feature is simple: determine the fields which will be used to sort the file, the number of characters which should be taken from each field, and the order in which the fields should be taken; once these options are set, press one key and the sort is generated instantaneously. If you need to go back to the original arrangement, just press a key to clear the sort. While the manual indicates that a file can be sorted by any field, PRO-CITE has difficulty sorting by call number -- decimal points throw it into a muddle. (If you need your bibliography in call number order, enter your records in that order.)
If you need your bibliography arranged by author, title, subject, or any other field, but with headings, or if you have a lengthy bibliography and need a finding aid, use the PRO-CITE Index feature. The Index feature can generate an alphabetical list of words or phrases from any field, and display the list alone, with corresponding record numbers (but not with corresponding page numbers, unfortunately), or as a complete bibliography with headings and formatted citations.
PRO-CITE also has sophisticated search capabilities. A file can be searched on all fields or on specific fields using Boolean operators (AND, OR, and NOT), greater-than and less-than operators, and parentheses to group terms. But before anyone gets too excited thinking they have found an inexpensive way to create an online catalog, be advised that, while this searching capability is very helpful, it is slow and cumbersome.
The Quick Search feature which was recently added is, in fact, twenty times faster than normal searching, but it is limited to searching the author, title, and date fields. Searching is best used to create subsets of a file so that a large number of records can be deleted at one time or a few records can be printed without printing the entire file. Files can not only be divided, but by using another PRO-CITE feature, the Merge feature, multiple files can be combined into one.
A unique feature called In-Text References -- most likely designed for researchers and scholars -- allows you to scan a manuscript in standard American Standard Code Information Interchange format (ASCII) for in-text references, such as (Smith 1985), compare these against your PRO-CITE database, and select the records which match the in-text references. These records can then be used to make a bibliography for the paper.
When a bibliography is complete and in order, you can go back to the Options screen and set the output option. Setting it to screen allows you to preview your formatted citations on the screen. Setting it to Disk saves the bibliography on a disk in standard ASCII format, allowing you to use the more powerful editing, layout, and printing functions of a word processor.
Setting it to printer sends the bibliography to your printer. PRO-CITE prints extremely well when the printer has a tractor feed but the program can have problems with some automatic sheet feeders. Hand-feeding single sheets of paper into the printer is also possible -- the Wait Between Pages option facilitates this -- but is not as labor-saving.
Ease of Use/Support
PRO-CITE is a menu-driven program (Figure 2) with consistent logic behind all its features. The rudiments of the program can be learned easily by studying the manual and by exploring the program. If you get stuck, you can request on-screen help by pressing the Home key. The help windows are context-sensitive so that wherever you are in the program, the help window tells you what your options are and guides you to the next step. There are nearly 100 help screens in all.
The program, though, is so powerful and versatile, that becoming an expert user could take some time. The new manual, now available with version 1.4, is extremely well written and well organized, a vast improvement over the previous manual, which was very disorganized. (As the program was updated, supplements were added instead of rewriting the entire manual; to find out all about a particular function, you often had to look in several sections.) You can also call Personal Bibliographic Software to get friendly and expert help; unlike so many software hotlines, these technicians really know the program.
Hardware Requirements and Cost
PRO-CITE and BIBLIO-LINKS are available for IBM Personal Computers and 100 percent compatibles, M300 Workstations, and the Apple Macintosh. There are twelve BIBLIO-LINKS for the IBM and three for the Macintosh. The programs require a minimum of 256K RAM and two 3 1/2-inch or 5 1/4-inch disk drives or a hard disk.
The full PRO-CITE program is $395; a demo disk with user manual is $75; a sample disk is $19.95. The BIBLIO-LINK programs are $195 each. Once the full programs are owned, updates can be purchased for a nominal fee.
Librarians must often produce compilations of bibliographic records in many different formats and for a variety of purposes. It can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. But now with PRO-CITE and its BIBLIO-LINK companion programs, such tasks require less effort and can be completed in a fraction of the time that it would take to do manually. Catalog cards, reading lists, annotated subject bibliographies, book-length media catalogs, and more can be produced quickly and attractively. These programs allow librarians to do what is most important to them: manage and disseminate information in an efficient and timely manner. Considering what can be accomplished, PRO-CITE is a bargain.
Michael Knauth is the director of the Greenley Library at the College of Technology, State University of New York at Farmingdale.…
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Bibliographies Made Easy: A Look at PRO-CITE. Contributors: Knauth, Michael - Author. Magazine title: Computers in Libraries. Volume: 9. Issue: 4 Publication date: April 1989. Page number: 22+. © 2008 Information Today, Inc. COPYRIGHT 1989 Gale Group.
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