succumbing to peer pressure

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Word and EndNote, how do I hate thee?
Let me count the ways...

Once upon a time I may have been singing the praises of the article cataloging software EndNote, and I may once again, but not this day. Actually, my problem is with, of course, Microsoft word, but EndNote gets all sucked in there too. I'm trying to get this damn paper off (it's not the paper's fault, I love this paper!) that I've been working on for a couple of years, and the last detail is a major overhaul of the references. I knew this would make my head hurt, so I've been putting it off and putting it off. But my co-author and I have been sitting on this thing for a couple of years, so we finally set ourselves some deadlines and this morning it was time to suck it up, pull out all the folders, and just hash this thing out. You see, it's a literature review, so I have over 80 references. And this is all entirely my fault, or more specifically, the me a year and a half ago's fault. Whom I currently dislike nearly as much as the entire Word program. Without even a second thought, I started keeping track of all my references as automated endnotes within my word document. It seemed so convenient! Move paragraphs around, edit things, all your references slide right around with the text! Brilliant! First un-brilliant feature - because of the structure of our article, some references are in tables. Tables in word aren't endowed with the automatic endnote references feature. So those I put in manually. But I'm not a complete moron - I kept track of those on paper so that as the reference numbers changed in the body of the document I could eventually go back and re-match up all the numbers in the tables. That's the project I thought I would be undertaking this morning. A headache, sure, but a surmountable one. What I completely neglected to take into consideration is Word's brilliant handling of repeat references - they all get their own brand new number! So if I reference Pearcy in the first paragraph, and he gets #2, and then four pages later I reference the exact same paper, he gets an additional #46! So I have to strip out all the automated referencing anyway, at the request of the journal to which I'm submitting, so I thought no problem, I'll keep track of all those repeats too, and when I strip out the automated stuff I'll manually go back and switch those numbers to reflect repetitive referencing of the same article. Except that it's all a waterfall of counting isn't it? As soon as I correct one reference, that changes the numbers on everything else, including all the other repeats I have to fix and the numbers in the tables! It's all doable - I just need to print out my paper as is, and all my references, and spread them out on the floor and number everything up manually and then methodically start making corrections from the beginning, keeping track of all the changing numbers as I go. But good god. I may lose my mind in the process. And thanks to the seemingly insurmountable (at least, in the next 23 hours) theory problem that my advisor nonchalantly asked me to add to the paper I'm working on with her, I don't have much brain left to lose. Bah!

ps - if there's some magical tick-box that would have prevented any one of these problems, please, I beg of you, wait a few weeks to tell me. I'd rather not also kick myself for missing a simple fix to this whole mess 18 months ago.