Thing 14: CiteULike and the joys of the NHS firewall

12 08 2012

For Thing 14 I’ve been attempting to explore referencing software and how it might assist me in my job.  I can think of many reasons why it would be beneficial for me to have an understanding and some experience of such software.

  • I could support healthcare researchers in compiling bibliographies and managing their references.  I already work alongside researchers to help them develop search strategies and to signpost key online resources and I’m often asked about referencing.
  • We have an R&D Support Group in the Trust, and it would be nice if I could present this to them as an easy solution for reference management. 
  • I work with a lot of students, from undergraduate to PhD level – I am sure this is a tool they would be interested in using.
  • I could share my new knowledge and skills with my library colleagues so that as a team we could all support students and researchers more effectively – it would add another tool to our toolbox of services.
  • I like to keep track of library-related articles and this is one way that I could collect and manage those articles, even sharing them with colleagues.
  • I conducted a systematic review with two colleagues last year and we had to manage a large number of references.  My colleague was studying at the time and had access to EndNote, but if I ever get involved in research again I’ll need access to a free alternative.

In short, I am wondering how I have managed so far without such software!  I can really see many potential benefits for using reference management software and I’m keen to get started.

If only things were that straightforward.  Thanks to NHS IT security, I can’t download the software for Zotero or Mendeley (from reading the descriptions of each I think Mendeley would suit my requirements best, plus I know some colleagues who are already using it).  Looks like I’ll be just be exploring CiteULike then!

So, I’ve registered with CiteULike and discovered some useful articles by using the search function that I’ve then ‘copied’ .  I’ve also discovered that there’s a ‘health sciences librarians’ group, which I’ve joined, although it doesn’t look very active – I’m the first member to join since November 2011!  The potential for professional networking isn’t looking promising.  I also find the site quite cumbersome and not necessarily intuitive – when I want to add a new article to my library I have to navigate away from my search list and that’s quite annoying.  The fulltext options are good, however, and I’m able to get the fulltext of a couple of useful clinical librarianship articles.

Overall, I’m not an immediate convert.  I’d like to hear from anyone who’s used CiteULike and had a different experience – but I’m not sure it’s something I’ll be revisiting very much.  I may try Mendeley from home, but as I’m most likely to be accessing articles from my work computer, it kind of defeats the point.  Sigh…