Comparative analysis of selected Personal Bibliographic Management Software (PBMS) with special reference to the requirements of researchers at a University of Technology

Omar, Yunus (2005-12)

Thesis (MPhil (Information Science))--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.


The incidence of referencing errors in research is difficult to manage due to the many types of bibliographic sources that have to be referenced. Preventing referencing errors is an essential part of bibliographic management and PBMS (Personal Bibliographic Management Systems) have been designed to manage this. To design appropriate strategies for preventing the errors, the prevalence of PBMS usage in higher education needs to be investigated. The aim of the research was to determine whether available PBMS used at institutions would address the referencing errors at a UoT (University of Technology), and to recommend a suitable PBMS for the institution. The main research instruments used to gather data consisted of questionnaires, interviews and a head-to-head comparison of five PBMS programs EndNote, ReferenceManager, ProCite, Biblioscape and B3. Researchers in the Faculty of Business were selected because they highlighted the difficulties with referencing errors. Questionnaires were sent to 10 researchers to investigate their awareness of PBMS, the kinds of bibliographic sources they use and the frequency that they reference the sources. A questionnaire, sent to eight libraries in the country ascertained their use of PBMS and whether PBMS reduced referencing errors. These libraries provided a representative sample of the use of PBMS at both historically “White” and “Black” institutions. A questionnaire to editors of journals and an online database investigated the incidence of referencing errors in academic publications and measures to prevent the errors. An interview with a vendor of PBMS revealed the extent of PBMS sales to higher education institutions and the capabilities of the PBMS. A head-to-head comparison, using selected criteria relevant to the study, was done of the five PBMS. The response rate on the questionnaires was 100%. Researchers indicated that they were not aware of PBMS, and were therefore not using any. In higher education, the majority of the libraries used PBMS, and these libraries reported that PBMS had reduced referencing errors. Editors responded that papers submitted for publication do contain referencing errors, but that adherence measures such as peer reviews, referencing guidelines and academic accreditation prevented referencing errors in published research. Data from all the research instruments led to the recommendation of using a combination of two PBMS programs at the UoT. The study has shown that there are software programs available to reduce referencing errors in research at the UoT, through the use of PBMS.

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