If you write non-fiction, or find yourself using many resources to help you build 'background' for your fiction projects, you have the need to keep track of your sources. If you're anything like me, that probably once involved a handwritten bibliography, tons of messy notecards, and page after page of sources you printed out but have no idea where they came from. I should say, that used to be me.
EasyBib is an incredible resource that has completely changed the way I research my writing projects. I learned about it in my work as a Library Media Specialist. Fourth graders needed guidance in creating bibliographies and I was on the hunt for tools that would make the process easier and more efficient. In the process, I found a tool that I use extensively with students, but also in my own writing.
EasyBib at its core is a simple bibliography generator. You plug in information and it spits out a properly formatted bibliography.
EasyBib (basic) is available for free, and for a small fee you can unlock some additional features. For example, the citations created in the free version are in APA. If you need MLA, Chicago, etc. you have to upgrade to 'paid' version. To be honest, I've never paid for the additional services, but as I continue to learn more and more about the tools I am considering it. This review will give you an overview of the free tools and a brief look at some of the paid resources.
I recommend creating a free account. With an account, you can create and save 'Projects.' These are your bibliography lists for each. There is no limit to the number of projects you can create with the free version.
When I am first in 'research' mode, I spend hours searching the internet. I can easily fall into what I call a 'rabbit hole.' An hour later I realize that I have read over a dozen articles, watched a myriad of videos, etc. and I have no idea what was useful or not. This is where EasyBib has made my life easier. I add any resources that I think might be valuable for me in the future. In this way, I can always return to the sources and delete them later if I don't want to keep it. One of the features about EasyBib that I love the most is that as you add new resources, it continues to alphabetize your list. Since this is internet researching, most of my sources at this point are URL's. I simply copy and paste these into the "Cite Source" section of the website and it usually figures out what type of source I am using. You can 'fine tune' the citation by adding author, site name, etc. if it does not glean that from the URL. The few seconds this will take will pay off later on when you need to access the source again to check your information.
To me, the real power of EasyBib is the variety of sources that you can create. There are 59 options for sources, from advertisement to a website.
Rather than recreate a basic tutorial on the program, I found several online that do a fantastic job. Here is a quick introduction:
EasyBib also has an app that you can use to scan the barcode of any book and it automatically creates an annotation for you and drops it into your project. I have this on my phone and iPad and it was super helpful on my last research trip to the Newberry Library. Here is a quick overview of how to do this:
I recently learned that EasyBib has an 'add on' to Google Drive that allows you to work seamlessly within the Google Docs environment. I've started using Google Drive Docs to brainstorm and even create drafts of writing projects, but I've not yet begun using this add on. It looks like another way be even more efficient in my research and note taking. I may use this instead of the pricey add ons that you can access through EasyBib. Here is a tutorial on how to get and use the add on.
If you find yourself loving Easybib and have extra funds laying around, you might want to go ahead and sign up for a subscription; it's only $20 for a full year. The perks are pretty cool: the virtual notecards and dynamic outlining are tremendously useful; I've just found other tools (Google Docs and many free add ons) to do the same job for free.
I wrote a post late last year about how EasyBib fits into my research process. You can read more about that HERE.
So, there you go. Get started on that research and save yourself a great deal of grief and frustration by documenting as you go. I would love to hear about your experience with this tool in the comments section below. What do you love about it? What do you wish it could do that it doesn't? What tool do you use to keep track of your sources?