Most free bookmarking sites cater to tech geeks, political junkies, and folks who enjoy offbeat news and video clips. While both practical and entertaining for their users, the Diggs and Furls of the world have left a gap in online bookmarking that CiteULike has recognized: academia. Designed by scholar Richard Cameron as a way for researchers to keep track of journal articles and other texts, CiteULike has filled the academic bookmarking niche by allowing users to collect and organize research links, manage citation details, and even extract bibliographic data from a web page automatically. On top of that, CiteULike provides a forum for sharing resources. Although it’s used primarily by faculty, fellows, and graduate students engaged in more intensive research, this bookmarking site can also be used by the average college student just looking to organize research for a term paper.
How does CiteULike organize research?
Similar to social bookmarking sites, CiteULike offers a free signup and lets users install a bookmarklet so that, as they’re perusing the web for relevant articles, they can save them with one click. Users can then tag entries and search their personal library as it grows. But because CiteULike is focused on scholarly articles, books, and other research-related resources, it has some special features, including the ability to export to BibTeX and EndNote (two reference management tools frequently used in academia) and the ability to browse through articles by journal title. If the articles you save are from a supported site (e.g., JSTOR, the Public Library of Science, Anthrosource, Nature), then the citation details are automatically picked up when the page is saved using the bookmarklet. If you bookmark an article from a non-supported site, you just have to save the information manually (as you would anyway).
To what extent is CiteULike “social”?
The primary focus of CiteULike is one’s own personal library of links, so the individual user can (if desired) manage all of his or her resources without paying attention to anyone else. But CiteULike offers a group feature that allows a cohort of people to add/share articles that they’ll collectively find useful. An academic department or a research team might create a group on CiteULike, yet a group of students collaborating on a large project may also want to create a group to share information. Groups do need approval, but so long as the purpose is academic, it’s unlikely that creation would be a problem. Additionally, many academics use CiteULike to see what other people in their field are reading, so it can serve as a catalog for browsing as much as a tool to organize research.
If your academic work involves keeping track of a bevy of web resources, check out CiteULike, and see if it is indeed a site you like.