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Author: J. Kelly Robison
Title: ProCite 5.0
Publication Info: Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
April 2000

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Source: ProCite 5.0
J. Kelly Robison

vol. 3, no. 1, April 2000
Article Type: Software Review

ProCite 5.0

ProCite 5 for Windows 9x/NT. ISI ResearchSoft, Inc. ,1999.

Download version, $229.95; Shipped version, $355.95; Student version, $99.95.

ProCite 4 for Macintosh: Download version not available; Shipped version, $395.95; Student version, $99.95.

As a long-time user of Endnote (also produced by RIS, Inc.) the thought of switching to a new bibliographic database program filled me with horror. I imagined having to learn a completely new user-interface set-up, new input and output menus and new codes for creating in-text citations in my word-processing program. But what I dreaded most was having to re-enter my entire bibliographic database in ProCite. Were this the case, I would not switch. However, ProCite 7.1 makes the conversion of old bibliographic database files into ProCite database format a snap. With three clicks of the mouse, I converted my Endnote database of several thousand entries into a ProCite database. However, this ease is only possible with Endnote and Reference Manager, both published by ISI ResearchSoft. For other database formats, there is a work-around. ProCite allows the user to import text files which could be created with older database programs and then converted by ProCite.

For myself, a long-time user of bibliographic database programs, the incorporation of my old database file into ProCite was the major obstacle. For users new to bibliographic database programs, ProCite provides a challenge, but not one without rewards. Installation of the program was easy. The user simply inserts the CD which then auto-loads, and follows the instructions. After a reboot of the computer, ProCite is ready to run. A new (empty) database must first be created, then work can commence. The user clicks on "Database" in the drop-down menu, chooses "New Record" and is ready to insert the relevant information (figure 1.). A drop-down menu under "Workform" (figure 2.) allows the user to select the type of document and the list of document types is long. From the old standards such as books and articles, ProCite also provides support for the input of information on web pages, email and other electronic media. The entered record is then listed alphabetically in the database first under author's name and then under work title.

figure 1.
figure 2.

By far the most frustrating (or perhaps boring would be a better term) is the entry of all the relevant bibliographic information into the database. This time-consuming process is made easier through ProCite's Internet search features. This particular feature of ProCite far exceeds the capabilities of other bibliography programs. Generally, most programs allow a search of only one online catalog. ProCite allows the user to search several catalogs simultaneously. It also allows a subject and keyword search, an attribute not every program has.

Once the user has created a database, entered or imported records and so forth, The use of the database in actual work can commence. Bibliographies on a specialized topic can easily be created by searching for keywords or terms and then the result exported as a comma- or tab-delimited text file. ProCite gives the user the choice of which fields (author, title, ISBN, etc.) to include in the exported file. Or, the selected records may simply be printed in bibliographic format. One feature ProCite does not have that would be useful, and which other programs do have, is the ability to output bibliographies in specific styles such as Chicago or MLA. This can be accomplished, but only with a great deal of user input in selecting various fields and definitions via the "Output Styles" dialogue.

Searching for those records to insert in the bibliography is relatively simple since the search and organization capabilities of ProCite are robust. At the bottom of the database window are tabs that allow the user to switch between viewing all records or only a few based on keywords or other terms such as journal, author or workform. The keyword view is a nice feature as it allows the user to pick one particular topic, such as the American War of Independence, and view all records that come under that topic. If the user is searching for a particular keyword, topic, author, date of publication or other piece of information, ProCite allows a detailed search. The search window contains a great many icons whose function is not readily apparent. However, once the user understand the uses of these obscure icons, the capabilities of the search engine become clear. The "Insert Field" and "Insert Operators" functions allow a fine-tuning of the search so that the user comes away with only what is needed. A very basic, but sometimes more helpful, search is easily done by typing the term that is needed into the "Search For" field and then clicking "Search."

figure 3.

Another time-saving feature of ProCite is its ability to intermesh with word-processing programs such as MS Word and WordPerfect. By placing brief citation markers such as the author's name surrounded by the { } characters, ProCite is able to generate a bibliography from within the word-processing program. Alternatively, the user may link into the ProCite database via the "Tools" menu in WordPerfect and Word. The generate bibliography function may also be used to create endnotes by including additional text in the in-text citation. For example, to include page numbers in the endnotes, placing a colon followed by the page number in the citation will result in the page being placed at the end of the note.

In sum, ProCite is a powerful bibliographic database program with a wide range of specialized features. It allows fine-tuning of its features to cater to the work habits of the user. Its Internet and internal search features are without compare. Integration of ProCite in word-processing programs allows the creation of citations and bibliographies within a document. However, these dynamic features come at a price. ProCite is not a simple program to learn. Advanced users will come to understand the program and its various terms such as "field," "operator" and "workform" in several hours of diligent use. For beginners, the first day will be one of frustration. Fortunately, the help features are as robust as the rest of the program.

J. Kelly Robison

Center for US Studies
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg