Will DOI cure what ails me?
As I mentioned on my last post, I've been busy reformatting tons of references, adapting something I've written before to satisfy a slightly different format.
Non-scientists, non-scholarly types: It's like writing that 8th grade term paper all over again, times 100. You know, the one where each of your sources for your bibliography had to be on a separate index card, and you had to get your mom to drive you to the Hackettstown Library to search (are you ready now?) the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature for information on The Manhattan Project. I can't remember why I chose to write a term paper about the A-bomb at the tender age of 14, but a lot of what I read about for that paper still comes up.
But I digress.
The point is that reformatting references is unbelievably mundane work.
There is some computer software out there that's meant to take care of all that for you. The one I had started using is called EndNote. Endnote interfaces with Word, and it's smart enough to know that when you move text around, the numbers of your references will change if the order's been changed. It has templates for bibliographies in many different journals and can (supposedly) instantly reformat your references to a new journal.
Endnote didn't work well for me at all. I was working with a library of a couple hundred references for this review paper back in 2005. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out a way to make the software format my references according to the specifications of the particular journal. So, once I was sure I was done shuffling text around, I switched my references to text-only and reformatted them manually, and now I'm reformatting once again.
Is there other, better software out there?
The biggest difference between now and when I was in eighth grade is the ease of access to the internet. One of the handiest technologies for keeping track of the scholarly literature is The Digital Object Identifier System, or DOI. DOI is like a homing device for a journal article, so that no matter where the content moves on the web, looking it up using a DOI locates it and retrieves it.
Recently, some Elsevier journals changed their web and old links no longer worked. If I'd set those links to the DOI of the journal article, they'd still be intact. That reminds me; I need to change my research group's "Publications" page so that everything is indexed by DOI.
What I'm wondering is whether there will come a point where DOI will become the universal reference citation standard, including in print. If that happened, I'd never have to worry about whether I should be using bold or italic font, or whether the authors' surnames come first or last, ever again. Just a simple URL would be all I'd need. However, part of me thinks that if journals (or is it the ACS Style Guidepeople?) were ever going to adopt uniform, URL-based standards, they would have done it a few years ago, at the relative "dawn" of the internet age.
What are the barriers to this, if any? Is it a content searching issue?
If you were going to pick a universal reference style, what would it be and why?