This week we have another guest post about referencing. Dr Ian Hussey is a postdoctoral researcher in psychology working at Gent University, Belgium. His research interests focus on Relational Frame Theory and Suicide.

Here Ian tells us about a system that checks and corrects your references. Sounds pretty impressive to me! Enjoy. Claire

For me, referencing is by far the least enjoyable part of the writing process. I referenced a manuscript by hand just once before I began my search for a smarter technological solution. Reference managers such as Zotero, along with their plugins for web browsers and word processors, have since become a staple part of my workflow.

However, they’re not a complete solution, and they don’t always suit everyone. A reference manager is only as good as the breadth and accuracy of your references database. Some people find that that it takes them too long to manage and maintain their database. Others, that some references are inaccurate or incomplete, especially those for older articles or those from smaller publishers. As such, for several years I was left with the vague feeling that there was room for improvement.

A few months ago I was introduced to Recite, a service that has since become a key part of my writing toolkit. Whereas a reference manager saves time when I’m inserting and formatting references, Recite serves as a double checking and correcting service when I’m finished.

First, Recite checks all references in the text body and references section for formatting.

Second, the service checks that the two correctly correspond to one another.

Third, it uses Google Scholar to provide suggestions where it finds errors, and also flags what it thinks might be incomplete references.Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 10.18.02 am

The above image is a screenshot of the potential issues Recite found an example manuscript, including a description of the nature of the issue. It can also show you the exact location of these issues.

The service only requires a Google account to use, and is completely free for the moment. Simply sign in, either upload your manuscript or copy and paste it into the provided text box, and then select the referencing format that you use. APA and Harvard formats are supported at the moment, but it sounds like this might be expanded in the future.

You can customise the level of feedback that it returns, from only flagging missing and incorrect references, to smaller formatting issues such as missing full stops and ampersand use. The former is great for catching references in your manager that are incorrect. I’ve found this particularly useful when I’ve accidentally referenced an advance online publication when the final published article is now available. If you’re not using a manager, this can also save hours of copyediting.

If you’ve ever felt that your reference manager doesn’t do everything it could, or if reference managers have always felt like too much upkeep for you, Recite might well be worth a look.

Full disclosure statement: Ian Hussey tells us that he was introduced to Recite by a colleague, Dr Miles Thompson, who is involved with the development of Recite. However, these opinions are Ian’s own.