Putting the “End” in EndNote.

EndNote is a tool used commonly by a number of academics for adding endnote references to their papers. You keep an EndNote library of references, and you can easily add them to your Word document as you type your paper.

So, this is a classic example of a file format that becomes vastly more useful if other programs can produce and read the EndNote file format. Web sites that list publications can also list their EndNote citation string, and individual researchers can publish an EndNote library of all of their publications. The network effect around a file format, it’s beautiful.

Except apparently that’s not okay with Thomson Reuters, the makers of EndNote. Danny Weitzner explains:

The latest beta release of Zotero will read and write EndNote’s proprietary metadata format. In response to this, Thomson sued the Zotero developers (an open source community hosted at George Mason University), charging that Zotero (and GMU) reverse engineered the EndNote file format in violation of EndNote’s end user license agreement (EULA).

Ummm, wow. Talk about putting the “End” in “EndNote.” Your data can go into EndNote, but it can never come out. This isn’t just poor strategy from Thomson Reuters, it’s, in the words of a colleague, “toxic.” Users of EndNote should be very upset about this.

Over the last year, I’ve spent a lot more time in the field of health informatics, where Word and EndNote are common tools. I’m sticking to LaTeX and Bibtex. Proprietary file formats with active lawsuits for folks who just want interoperability with other applications? Insane and unethical.

It’s my data. Just because I used someone else’s tool to organize it doesn’t make it any less mine.

6 thoughts on “Putting the “End” in EndNote.

  1. The latest beta release of Zotero will read and write EndNote’s proprietary metadata format.

    This error keeps getting bounced around the blogosphere. The file format in question has nothing to do with data; it’s the style configuration (the equivalent of BibTeX bst files).

  2. The latest beta release of Zotero will read and write EndNote’s proprietary metadata format.

    This error keeps getting bounced around the blogosphere. The file format in question has nothing to do with data; it’s the style configuration (the equivalent of BibTeX bst files).

  3. thanks for the correction, Bruce. I don’t think it should matter whether it’s data or style, but it’s good to be precise.

  4. thanks for the correction, Bruce. I don’t think it should matter whether it’s data or style, but it’s good to be precise.

  5. Right. Part of what’s so annoying about the lawsuit is that TR is asserting facts which are not true. So, like you say, better if those of us that are critiquing them be “precise.”

  6. Right. Part of what’s so annoying about the lawsuit is that TR is asserting facts which are not true. So, like you say, better if those of us that are critiquing them be “precise.”

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