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Posted by monkeyface
Mar 5, 2009 at 01:46 AM


Hello Everyone:
I’m new to the forum.  I found this forum incredibly helpful as I was searching for some kind of information manager so I thought I would post this if it might be of some help to someone. 

I’m writing my dissertation and have tons of info…So I was looking for a program that ideally did all the following things:

1) gather all my readings, papers, etc. in one place
2) allow my notes to be linked with references (for when I take notes on readings or have brilliant ideas (the former happens far more often than the latter)
3) has a robust search for when I’m writing and can no longer remember anything
4) create an outline
5) allow dragging and dropping notes into the outline (and the note would indicate the reference)
6) then generate bibliographies

Which seems to be what the writing process for thesis writers is kind of about anyway.  I used EndNote for a long time and would write, search for references, and insert references at the same time.  But I didn’t like that EndNote only had one field for notes—although it has great search features.  I tried Zotero but Zotero’s method of making outlines was clumsy (it does have an option). 

I downloaded the latest version of IdeaMason and so far it seems to fit the bill.  I downloaded its latest import options and imported my entire EndNote library.  Once that was done, you can right click and add notes to references.  They don’t show up as trees attached to the reference, but IM puts all the notes under the tab Materials.  That seems to be the best place to start with IdeaMason.  Then, if you right click on a reference, you can add a note to that reference.  It doesn’t show up as a linked note under the reference the way Zotero shows it, but if you look in the Materials section any note linked to a source will indicate the source.  Finally, I created an Outline of my thesis in Composition.  Another window opens and I can drag and drop my notes into it.  When you do this, if the note is linked to a reference, the program will automatically generate the bibliography.  Then I can export the page into Word for refining.  But I never have to go, “Crap, where did that idea come from???!!!” 

I noticed that quite a few people noted that IM was hard to work with—and I actually uninstalled it before reinstalling it to try again.  Compared to other outliner programs I tried (and I spent 2 days trying out programs, installed at least 12 programs) including MyInfo (which I liked a lot for organizing my teaching and to do stuff), ndx cards (liked idea but found it clumsy (also could not for the life of me import my EndNote library), and tons of others.  For Mac, I found Selenium 3.5 and another program that looked fantastic but alas only for Mac.  But for those of you who are willing to give IM another try, it really does seem like a great program.  Still, I’d like to hear other’s thoughts on IM.

Finally, two things: 1) I actually love Zotero—what IM doesn’t create is an actual full database of document—you can link to the PDF (or whatever document) and it “manages it” but that’s it.  Zotero actually allows you to import the full PDF (OCRs it) and creates an actual database of documents.  I also like the tagging capabilities of Zotero and of course robust search.  But I might be leaning toward IM as my reference manager and writer….

That’s it. 


Posted by Hugh
Mar 6, 2009 at 12:34 PM


Selenium 3.5 was a new name for me. I wasn’t encouraged by the screenshots where the name of the software and the logo seemed to take up a disproportionate amount of screen real estate.



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