"One of the biggest nasty chores in writing a scientific paper is putting together the bibliography," says Walter Alvarez, a professor of geology at the University of California, Berkeley. "It's just always been a big nuisance."

To help scientists cope with this chore, software packages to manage and produce bibliographies began to appear in the early 1980s. Now more powerful, more user-friendly, and more numerous than ever before, these programs offer the capability not only to automatically generate bibliographies, but also to do so in the appropriate formats for dozens of leading scientific journals. Scientists are also using these programs as research tools, creating bibliographic databases, specific to their study areas, that are searchable by, for example, user-created key words.

"The thrust of these programs is on building your own database," says Sue Stigleman, a former librarian at the Health Sciences Library of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill,...

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