In Praise of EndNote: A Letter to an Asswipe

By Sarah Smit

We're all unbelievably dumb at some point, right? A wise man once told me, 'If you never look at your past self and say "...dang, what an asswipe," it just means you're still an asswipe.' When I started uni, I was unbelievably dumb about many things. Today, however, we'll be addressing one particular thing I was dumb about: referencing. 

Dear Sarah;

It's 2014 and you’re excited to start your studies in whatever sounded coolest when you were doing your TISC selections. (Forensic science? Why yes, I would like to be Abby from NCIS, sign me up!) First lecture, and so far it’s less gory heroism and more how to not commit academic misconduct. It's kinda like you organised a tinder date with Aragorn and Viggo Mortensen showed up; although, technically, it is what you asked for, you’re feeling a little let down.

The lecturer has started talking about referencing, and you’ve tuned out because this isn’t the blood spatters and dead bodies you were promised, and besides, you did referencing in high school. Ah, my sweet summer child. Gird your loins, because referencing is a whoooole 'nother thing.

Your lecturer wants to know the author’s name, the publisher, the year and place it was published, and is it a journal article?  Does it have a DOI? What’s it’s ISSN? What does ISSN stand for? (Trick question; no one actually knows.) Which journal is it from? What issue of the journal is it from? What volume of the issue of the journal is it from? What’s the editor’s shoe size and favourite Chaupa Chaup flavour? (Also a trick question, the right answer is always size 11 and watermelon.) Not only do they want that information,  they want it ordered in one of a bunch of very specific styles; there’s APA, KGB, MLA, Chicago, CIA, Hamilton, and I made some of those up, but the point is, you didn’t know, did you? If you get it wrong you’ll lose marks, or, worst case scenario, you’ll get done for plagiarism.

Listen closely, 2014 Sarah, cause I'm about to give you a bit of information that took  you WAY too long to figure out yourself. Doing referencing by hand is little like having a swipe only debit card in 2017; it’ll get the job done, but it’s slow, annoying, and everyone looking over your shoulder is wondering if you’re really taking the 21st century seriously. Those in the know worship at the altar of Endnote, a referencing software used by academics the world over. You plug the details in, and through some black magic, Endnote will spit out a perfectly formatted reference. It’ll keep track of your footnotes, store your PDF’s and even, if you’re clever, find resources for you. You normally have to buy it, but Murdoch will licence it to students for FREE. Download it and put the time in to learn how it works, and you’ll thank me later.

Love and kisses (but only ironically),

2018 Sarah