Review of Academic DataManager 2.5
Sharon D. Michalove
Department of History
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Finding the right bibliographic/note-taking program is a very individual decision. A great deal depends on the research style of the person involved. In my case, a long dependence on note cards meant that I wanted a program that would emulate long ingrained habits but give me the advantages of a computer. While Pro-Cite and Endnote have their advocates, neither of these programs emulated my particular note-taking style. I wanted to see actual notecards on the screen and manipulate them in the same way as those sitting in file boxes from earlier research projects.
Then Academic DataManager (ADM) crossed my path. When you open up the program, you see cards with places for bibliographic information and for notes as well as key words, choices of reference type, three possible bibliographic formats (MLA, APA, and Turabian), an index function, and authority lists that can be customized. Academic DataManager will turn your cards into a bibliography as a word-processing document or it can be used in creating footnotes. The cards that have been created as examples can be selected and deleted as a group so you have an empty card file to start with. To create new bibliographies, just duplicate the card file and begin again.
The manual is short and easy to understand. You can create your own reference types if the possibilities available to do not match the material you are working with. The usual Mac commands are there and your work is saved automatically. Subsets of data can be made by the selected references function and you can import data to ADM and export it to other bibliographic databases and database programs. The notes field is 30,000 characters long so note-taking limitations are not a problem. Of course everything can be cut and pasted into other Macintosh programs. Searching can be done in various ways, especially using the key words. I found for my own work that designating primary and secondary sources in the key words was very useful when the time came to sort for my bibliography.
How did all this work for my own project? Well, there were the pros that I mentioned but there were also a few weak points. I had been using a similar program called Refcard (Hyperglot Software) that is no longer supported by that company. Refcard allowed me to do several things that ADM does not. First, the index numbers were assigned by the user. Because my system of note taking is to have a master card for each book or article and then individual note cards for each piece of information, this system was ideal. For example, if my first book was numbered 1, then the subsequent notes would be 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and so forth. Because this feature was not available in ADM, I used the ISBN field, which was all right as long as I didn't want to record ISBN numbers. In this regard, I would also have liked a card-copying function so that I could use my master card to create the basic new cards for my notes rather than having to copy and paste the information from each field onto my new card.
I also had a problem with the selection function. I work on a Classic II computer with a small screen. The "selected" box does not appear on my screen, which is a definite disadvantae. This is a program that definitely benefits from being used on a computer with a 12" or 14" screen. That does not mean I could not use the selection function, merely that I had to resort to the pull-down menu or a dialog box every time I wanted to select or deselect a card.
The final drawback for me was that text formats could not be transferred from ADM to my word-processing program. I would have liked a bibliographic format that used italics rather than underlining. After all, the only reason to use underlining is to indicate italics on a typewriter where italics are not available.
With these criticisms in mind, would I still recommend ADM? Definitely. None of the problems I found were so serious as to make the program undesirable. While it is not as elegant as the now-defunct Refcard, it is an excellent choice. It is affordable, powerful, and comfortable to work with. Future versions can only improve an already excellent program.
Technical support is free to registered users by e-mail, telephone, and snail mail. Academic DataManager 2.5 is available through KalMarx Software, 4716 Fessenden St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20016 (e-mail: email@example.com.
[note from your editor: Tom Marx is one of the very first members of HMS.]
All materials on this page and related H-Mac pages are copyright the individual authors and may not be used without permission of the individual authors.
Last Update: 9 April 95