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Reference Spreadsheet Description

Reference spreadsheets are enhanced spreadsheets where every cell in the spreadsheet is a potential paper. The purpose of reference spreadsheets is to enable a researcher to get a quick sense of which authors have been influential in a field, what particular papers have been cited most, when a paper has been published and what is the overall context in which a particular paper is published. While all this information is available at online search sites such as PUBMED in one form or another, organizing all the data resulting from a topic search in a spreadsheet makes the reference information much more easily accessible.

More information on the advantages, limitations and features of Bionomena developed reference spreadsheets are below. Examples of reference spreadsheets are available in both online and downloadable Excel files. Custom reference spreadsheets can be requested.

Advantages of reference spreadsheets:

1. A reference spreadsheet provides a complete publication record as of the search date of a particular topic with links to outside resources. This is useful when wanting to learn comprehensively about a topic and/or writing a review, thesis or paper.
2. A researcher can see at a glance who published the most cited papers, what was published and when it published and in what context. This is due to the organization of papers in cells and organized by year and author. Such an organization is not found in any current online search tools that return lists of results.
3. The format of reference spreadsheets make it easy to examine papers that may have been overlooked.
4. Searching within Excel spreadsheets (use the excel Find feature, search within comments and then search for a key word) is much faster than online searches and provides much of the same information.

Limitations of reference spreadsheets:

1. The main limitation of reference spreadsheets is that they are snapshots of the literature at the time the search was made. This is primarily because search results (from the SCOPUS database) require some manual curation to correct errors in the returned search results.
2. Online search tools have many features that aid in exploring a particular topic that have not been implemented in reference spreadsheets. Some examples: HUBMED can show network maps of papers where clicking on a node takes one to related papers. GOPUBMED categorizes papers making it possible to easily see how many papers are in each category and to filter search results by a particular topic. PUBMED returns relevant related articles. SCOPUS can show which papers cite a particular paper and which papers a particular paper cites.
3. The online spreadsheet is viewable by all but the downloadable spreadsheet (with more features) requires Microsoft Excel 2007 and has the functionality of Excel 2007.

Features of reference spreadsheets:

1. The rows of the spreadsheet are the corresponding authors. The columns are publication year. The number in each cell is the number of times a paper has been cited as of the search date.
2. The author list is sorted by total paper citations of a given author from highest to lowest.
3. The borders of the cell refer to whether a paper is an article (black border) or review (red border). Papers that are not reviews or articles don’t have a border.
4. Activating or mousing over a cell allows a researcher to view the paper title, full author list, publication journal and page, abstract and author affiliation.
5. Activating a cell (macros need to be enabled for this to work) turns on a comment box that has links to PUBMED and SCOPUS.
6. Activating a cell with a mouse or keyboard will automatically highlight the cell.
7. It is possible to Note specific papers using the Note feature.
8. It is possible to search within spreadsheets using the Excel Find feature.

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Posted in Reference Spreadsheets, Research Tools, Web Log.


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