Friday, 22 May 2015

10 Chrome extensions to help manage references, notes, citations and capture information.


10 Chrome extensions to help manage references, notes, citations and capture information.


tattersall smallFrom literature searches to collaborative online writing, a significant amount of the research process now takes place online. Andrew Tattersall provides
a list of useful Google Chrome extensions that can be added to the
browser to help facilitate the daily academic workflow. Recommendations
below cover tools for reference management, link saving, and finding
quick access to academic articles.

Not everyone uses Google Chrome as their browser of choice, some
can’t install it, others can’t get on with it and there are probably a
few who still do not realise it exists. Whilst Chrome has a wealth of
good reasons why you should use it, from syncing your accounts across
devices to its search functionality; there are other reasons why you
should consider Chrome. These are called extensions which you can
install to improve your web experience even more. There are a growing
number of useful extensions for the digital academic, of which I have
picked 10 of the best below. I’ve also given the Chrome Store average
review and how many copies of each extension has been installed, as a
broad indicator of popularity and uptake.

chromeImage credit: Stephen Shankland Flickr CC BY-SA

Readability is a tool I’ve promoted on countless occasions thanks to
ability to turn complicated, image and link-heavy web pages into simple,
clean PDF type documents. By clicking this extension whilst viewing a
webpage you can read the article free of distraction or save it later to
read offline on your computer or tablet.

Chrome Web Store Rating 4 /5 – 583k users

readabilityImage credit: Gustavo da Cunha Pimenta Flickr CC BY-SA

Evernote is a bit of a Swiss Army Knife of an extension. Not only
does it do something very similar to Readability and clean up web pages
for later viewing but it also captures the web page in full with its Web
Clipper tool. You can also take screenshots, save articles and bookmark
pages to your Evernote scrapbook.

Chrome Web Store Rating 3 /5 76k users

If you are making a presentation, poster or writing something that
requires a URL it’s important to make those links as easy to copy and
access as possible. Very often presentations link to external artefacts,
or give copyright attributions that have a URL so long and complicated
that only the most eagle-eyed will be able to write it down before the
presentation moves on. The button turns the long URL into
something much more digestible, as well as make it useful for anyone
Tweeting the link and wanting to save on character space.

Chrome Web Store Rating 4 /5 343k users

bitlyImage credit: Tony Hirst Flickr CC BY
Nimbus Screenshot

Taking screenshots can be a laborious task and often resulted in
hitting the ‘Print Screen’ button followed by cropping the outer content
in Paint (when you could find it), PowerPoint or some other tool.
Nimbus Screenshot is one of many similar tools that allows capture and
crop all directly from the browser. Cropped content can be edited and
annotated before being saved locally to your computer.

Chrome Web Store Rating 41/2 / 5 – 257k users

Lazy Scholar

An interesting and inventive extension to say the least. Lazy Scholar
gives users a snapshot of metrics relating to a piece of research. It
can be hit and miss at times but is worth trying out to see what data it
retrieves. By clicking on the extension in sites such as Pubmed the
Lazy Scholar toolbar pops up giving information on Scholar Cites, Web of
Science score, Altmetric score, Journal Impact Factor, as well as
contact email and whether there have been any comments on the paper.

Chrome Web Store Rating 4 /5 – 7k users

lazy scholarImage credit: Lazy Scholar
Google Scholar Button

This works with Google Scholar and turns search results into easy
copy and paste references using the main styles of APA, MLA and Chicago.
The extension also allows you to track down PDFs of the paper and
export results in a variety of formats that can be used in reference
management packages.

Chrome Web Store Rating 4 ½ / 5 – 334k users

Image credit: Google Scholar Button

This is an extension for Twitter that mirrors your Twitter experience
and allows you to follow your timelines, compose Tweets, share, delete
and favourite them. It automatically creates short URLs within the
extension and acts as a notifier for new Tweets.

Chrome Web Store Rating 4.5/5 – 280k users


Unlike the other extensions in this list, PaperPile isn’t free but
comes with a 30 day free trial so at least you can decide whether it is
useful. PaperPile is a reference management tool for researchers and
students who rely on Google Apps to carry out their research. One of the
flaws in the Google education model has been the lack of a good, solid
reference management tool. Tools like Mendeley, Zotero and Endnote are
quite comprehensive and rightly so as accurate and thorough referencing
in academia is important. So whether this extension can match these
established tools, only time will tell. Nevertheless it is worth
investigation for Chrome based researchers.

Chrome Web Store Rating 5/5 – 2k users

Cite This For Me

Another citation tool to investigate alongside the excellent EasyBib
and RefMe ones that are also worth looking at. Cite This For Me can
create references in APA, Chicago, Harvard and MLA formats and provides a
pop-up box containing the appropriately formatted reference for  books,
newspapers, journals and more. I tried it with a BBC football story and
it worked fine, allowing me to switch between citation styles. It gives
the option of adding to your Cite This For Me bibliography or exporting
to a piece of research.

Chrome Web Store Rating 4 ½ / 5 – 85k users

citation neededImage credit: XKCD (Wikimedia)
Extension Manager

After a while you might start to notice whilst having multiple Chrome
tabs open that your computer struggles with performance. Obviously
having multiple tabs open is going to use valuable computing resources.
Having lots of extensions running can also be at the detriment of your
computing experience. Therefore it becomes increasingly important to
have an extension to manage your extensions, especially when you accrue
so many, some of which you may have stopped using.

Chrome Web Store Rating 4 ½ / 5 – users 90k

Note: This article gives the views of the author, and not the
position of the Impact of Social Science blog, nor of the London School
of Economics. Please review our Comments Policy if you have any concerns on posting a comment below.

About the Author

Andy Tattersall is
an Information Specialist at the School of Health and Related Research
(ScHARR) at the University of Sheffield. His role is to scan the horizon
for Web and technologies opportunities relating to research, teaching
and collaboration and maintain networks that support this. Andy has
a keen interest in new ways of working by employing Altmetrics, Web 2.0
and Social Media but also paying close attention to the implications and
pitfalls for using such advances. @andy_tattersall

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Impact of Social Sciences – 10 Chrome extensions to help manage references, notes, citations and capture information.


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  5. Very good post. Will like to add some more in the list.

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