Importing an existing reference collection into Reference Manager

Last Modified: 3rd Jan 2013
Category: Bibliography > Reference Manager
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Article Ref.: 105DE
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Reference Manager 105DE How to bring in information from a word document, spreadsheet or database into Reference Manager. One of the most common questions asked by new and old users of our bibliographic packages is whether an existing list of references can be imported without having to manually type them all in. This article will discuss the various methods by which this can be achieved and show how your existing references can be manipulated into a format that can be imported into a Reference Manager database. As a rule of thumb, you should consider how many references you need to import. If you have less than a hundred then it may be quicker to enter these into your bibliographic software by either manually typing them in or copying and pasting sections into the appropriate fields from your existing system (this is particularly useful if you have abstracts). You should also decide whether your existing references are available online. For example, if you have an existing reference collection which is all about Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) then you could use the information in your existing reference list to locate the references online. The information in your existing list should be more than adequate to locate the relevant reference as you have the names of the authors, book and / or journal name. Using this method, you could perform a search of an online database e.g. PubMed to find all of the articles and import them. A number of online databases support Direct Export, Direct Connection or Exporting to Text Files which makes sending the references to Reference Manager much quicker than manually typing them in. This method can also identify new references which may be of interest to you. If you decide that your references are not available online, and that the number of references in your existing system is large enough, then you will want to consider the following. Reference Manager can import information stored in text files, however the text files must be laid out in a logical, consistent format. Generally speaking, people who have never used Reference Manager will have an existing list of references in one of two formats: 1. Word document 2. Database or Spreadsheet (Click on the links above to be taken to the appropriate section of this article) 1. A document (e.g. Microsoft Word) A number of users have a document which contains a list of references which are already displayed in a bibliographic style e.g. Harvard or Vancouver. If your existing list of references is similar to the following example then this section is applicable to you: 1. Bullock C. and F. Khalid, Health issues related to customary consanguineous marriage among British Pakistanis. Health Promotion International, 1995. 10(3): p. 209-217. 2. Buriel R., Childrearing orientations in Mexican American families: the influence of generation and sociocultural factors. Journal of Marriage and the family, 1993. 55(4): p. 987-1001. 3. Chambers D. and S. Lawler, [Review] Representing the family. European Journal of Communication, 2002. 17(4): p. 520-523. 4. Chandra V., Children's work in the family: a sociological study of Indian children in Coventry and Lucknow. 2000, University of Warwick: Warwick. Each of the above references contains all of the information you need, however the important factor is the way in which the information is separated. If we take the following reference: 4. Chandra, V. Children's work in the family: a sociological study of Indian children in Coventry and Lucknow. 2000, University of Warwick: Warwick. You can see that each bit of information is separated by some form of punctuation i.e. - Author is separated from the title by a full stop - Title is separated from year by a full stop - The publisher is separated from the year by a comma etc.. This means that it will be relatively easy to set your bibliographic package to identify each part of the reference; however there are some steps to consider before we can create the text file for importing into your package. Firstly, each reference needs to have a consistent start character. At the moment, the list is numbered which is not suitable for importing. Using your word processor you should be able to select your entire reference list and change the numbers to another character e.g. an asterisk (*). You can use the bullet option to add this character, so that your reference list now appears as: * Bullock C. and F. Khalid, Health issues related to customary consanguineous marriage among British Pakistanis. Health Promotion International, 1995. 10(3): p. 209-217. * Buriel R., Childrearing orientations in Mexican American families: the influence of generation and sociocultural factors. Journal of Marriage and the family, 1993. 55(4): p. 987-1001. You can now use the File, Save As option in your word processor to save the file as a Text File. Click here to go to the Create Filter section. 2. Database e.g. Microsoft Access, FileMaker, Excel or Word Table. If you have been using another package to store your references such as a spreadsheet or database application, then some work is needed to create a suitable text file for importing into your bibliographic software. Reference Manager prefers text files which have each part of the reference preceded by a tag, for example: TI: This is the title AU: Smith, J. JO: Journal name VO: 13 IS: 2 This type of format allows you to set Reference Manager to expect a certain type of information after the tag i.e. any information preceded by the "AU: " identifier should be placed in the Author field of your database. To create this output, you have a number of options. However, by far the easiest is to use the mail-merge functionality within your word processor to create a document containing each record from your database or spreadsheet with each part of the reference split into tags. Microsoft Word allows you to link to an external database (e.g. Access or Excel) and bring in the information to a template which will then create a master text file containing all of your references in the tagged format you require. The steps for this are as follows: 1. Launch your database or spreadsheet and make a note of the Column headings e.g. Author, Date, etc... 2. Launch Microsoft Word and create a new document with a tag for each column heading e.g.: TY: AU: TI: VO: IS: SP: EP: Make sure that you add a carriage return after the last tag so that in the final merged file each record will be separated by a blank line. 3. Once you have added a tag for each column in your existing reference system you can use Microsoft Word's mail merge feature to add the data to each tag. The mail merge Wizard will ask you to specify a database (your existing reference list) and will then provide you with the column headings. You can insert appropriate fields from your spreadsheet or database into Microsoft Word so that you can match up the tags to your data: TY: > AU: > TI: > VO: > IS: > SP: > EP: > 4. When you have inserted all of the fields into your Microsoft Word document, you can run the mail merge. This will create a new document which will contain all of the reference information from your existing reference system matched to the appropriate tag e.g.: TY: Symposium Abstract AU: Baldini J.U.L. TI: Climatic and hydrolologic controls on annual carbonate deposition for a stalagmite from Brown's Folly mine, Wiltshire VO: 27 IS: 3 SP: 129 EP: TY: Symposium Abstract AU: Barker-Read G.R.; Farnfield R.A. TI: Exposure to Radon in Gilfield Mine [North Yorkshire] VO: 23 IS: 3 SP: 125 EP: Etc 5. Save the resulting document as a text file using the File, Save As function in Microsoft Word. You now have a properly formatted text file which is ready to import into Reference Manager. The next step is to create an import filter to tell Reference Manager how to use the text file you have created. Click here to be taken to the appropriate section of this document. CREATING AN IMPORT FILTER Reference Manager uses import filters to read information from text files and place it into the appropriate fields within your database. The type of filter you need to create depends on the type of text file you have created. A. Bibliographic Style For importing a text file which looks like: * Bullock C. and F. Khalid, Health issues related to customary consanguineous marriage among British Pakistanis. Health Promotion International, 1995. 10(3): p. 209-217. * Buriel R., Childrearing orientations in Mexican American families: the influence of generation and sociocultural factors. Journal of Marriage and the family, 1993. 55(4): p. 987-1001. In Reference Manager, click on Tools, Import Filter Editor and click on File, New. Click Yes when shown the following message: Specify a file name for your filter. You can save this filter anywhere on your computer. Click on Next and you will be shown a screen which allows you to enter a description of the filter you are about to create. It is always useful to add some details about the filter and you will not be allowed to proceed with the Wizard until you have entered some information into this screen. Click on Next and you will be shown the following screen: Select Yes on this screen, even if you are not sure. Click on Next. Reference Manager needs to know how each reference in the text file is separated i.e. what denotes the start of a reference? Our text file has an asterisk (*) character at the start of each reference so we need to set this as the Tag/Reference Marker. The only tag in our text file is an asterisk (*) character, so this should be entered into the Tag format field. Remember to include any spaces which appear before or after the tag. Each reference is on a new-line so you will need to add the new line character as shown above. This can be entered by pressing Control + L, or you can use the arrow button to insert this. Click on Finish and OK the following message: The following screen will be displayed: Each reference in our original dat

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