As I arrived on Monday to my office, I found on top of my desk both the box with my printed dissertation and a ‘Mendeley kit’ composed of highlighters, post-its and a notepad with the message “ALDRIG mere EndNote” (Never again EndNote). It was a present from my friend Roland Hachman in response to my EndNote “crisis”.
For not so long ago, as Roland started as a PhD student and moved to the desk next to me, we had a quarrel about reference management software. I advocated -almost with facts and figures- for EndNote, while he stood up for Zotero.
I have had a lovely time with EndNote. For almost 3 years ago, I enrolled in a data management course in which EndNote was introduced. Since then, I have used it nearly daily and had convinced at least two other colleagues to engage in it. I have been fairly in love with EndNote. We have had wonderful time together. But fairy-tale stories with happy endings happen seldom in real life.
Each chapter of my dissertation has been worked separately and after the final corrections and amendments, I started putting all together in one single file. In this way, Word would make a unique table of contents, footnotes would have continuous numbering and all the reference would be in one single reference list. Everything worked well until I introduced chapter 6. Then, Word crashed.
I was adviced to copy the whole in a new document, introduced again chapter 6 and it worked well. But then, chapter 7 was introduced and when saving, an endless saving loop started. Whenever I tried to save the document a Save As window popped-up.
This happened 6 days before delivery. I tried everything. I went into as much Word fora possible, just to find out that this is a recognised bug that has affected Word since version 2007 when working with formulas and macros. I cannot say it comforted me in any way to read many comments sharing this same misfortune (e.g. http://osdir.com/ml/search.endnote/2004-05/msg00026.html, https://thesiswhisperer.com/2013/08/21/endnote-vs-well-everything-else/ ).
It was just horrible.
I left the office heartless, to ask my hubby at home if he could figure out something. He is the smart one when technical issues happen. The ruined dissertation was no longer a urban myth, it happened to me.
While my husband struggled to find some clues in his computer, and being prevented to even touch my computer as I was (and still am) afraid to instinctively push Ctr+Alt+Del so that all my work will be gone forever … he asked me if I have tried to print it digitally.
Yes, I could. And I could also ’Save As’ .pdf. Since then I started making .pdf files after each change. I have a thousand files in my computer: final.pdf, final_final.pdf, final_fin.pdf, the_very_final_final.pdf … and so on.
The very-last-final-fin-version was done just on time to hand it in to print. I have been trusting on my computer’s RAM to keep the program opened these last 3 weeks. It is still there.
It is a sort of “euthanasia” which I am not willing to accept. I have to ‘kill’ the Word document sometime. The dissertation by now is delivered, printed and in the hands of the Phd tribunal. I have a possibility of 50/50 that it would be accepted as it is, or that I need to make changes before being able to defend it. They have 2 months to judge it. So the next 2 months the computer needs to keep Word opened without crashing.
Each day, I need to remember to close all other programs, so that hopefully the computer will not have any issue and be forced to close. But I do need to install a new version of NVivo for a workshop in June, and I am still trying to figure out how to avoid the SaveAs loop and shut the computer.
I am also taking Roland’s advice, and will start moving all my stuff to Mendeley. EndNote was wonderful while it worked, but now I don’t trust on it any longer.
As I am finished this semester, I will be un-enrolled at SDU and miss all my software privileges, one of them is the use of EndNote. So Mendeley sounds as a good option.
Sorry EndNote … but you deserve it. I QUIT!