For some people, writing a research paper is no big deal. As for the rest of us, we’ll take all the help we can get. I want to introduce to you a wonderful new application called Citelighter, an academic tool to help keep your online findings for research papers organized.
Citelighter is a free web browser extension, currently available for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, which allows users to easily save clippings of text and build their paper’s bibliography. When you find text on a web page that you think might be helpful in writing your paper, you simply highlight the text and a “capture” button will appear when you are done; click the button and your text is saved to your account. Within your account, you can create different “projects” as locations to save your clippings to. This is a great feature especially if you are working on multiple papers at once. By creating multiple projects, you can easily keep clippings of text organized and separated from one another.
The killer feature of Citelighter, in my opinion, is the automated bibliography. When you capture text from a web page, Citelighter will automatically generate a bibliography entry for it. You also have the ability to choose between MLA, APA, or Chicago style, which is a nice perk. Of course, if there are any errors to the entry you can manually edit them, but for the most part, Citelighter gets it right. Parenthetical documentation and works cited pages can be a real drag, but Citelighter makes it that much easier.
Evernote is a popular web clipping tool right now, and it is much more robust than Citelighter. With Evernote, users can save much more than text, and it also has supported applications for mobile devices. But one of the advantages that Citelighter has over Evernote is its sheer simplicity. When I’m working on a research paper, I want something that is efficient and won’t slow me down. I need a tool, not the whole tool box. Citelighter has a much more “focused function” than Evernote, in its design for a very specific academic purpose. Plus, Evernote doesn’t have any kind of automated bibliography or citation feature.
There are other handy additions to the software like being able to leave comments under clippings, as well as printing, sending via email, and exporting your lists of clippings and bibliography to Microsoft Word. Citelighter is definitely one of my top tools for school, and I would urge any student to check it out. Writing papers are enough work already, why not let Citelighter help you out?
Contact Michael Downes at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MichaelFDownes