CASE STUDY : Implementation of the bibliographic management tool CITAVI at the Road Research Center

CASE STUDY : Implementation of the bibliographic management tool CITAVI at the Road Research Center

Discovery and implementation

  • How did you discover Citavi / RITME and why did you choose Citavi for this project?

As editor of scientific publications, we are drawn by Ethics to produce complete and accurate work. Sources are of the utmost importance in the scientific workspace ; data reliability and data integrity are paramount to a scientific work of high standards. We had never worked with an appropriate tool and we wanted to study the question by entrusting this subject to a student in Information Science. He studied the market for us as part of his final year’s assignment. At the end of his research, it turned out that only Citavi met all our needs while allowing us to work exclusively on our own servers.

The number of universities around the world using Citavi reassured us. Moreover, a German research institute, partner of the RRC, has also been using it for many years. These references confirmed our final choice.

Finally, we discovered RITME, which provides Citavi in Belgium, through a simple search on the Internet.

  • What were the key stages in the construction and implementation of such a project?

I can recall two major concerns we had.

First of all: duplicates. The fear that the final users of the tool would copy on the server dedicated to Citavi documents already saved for good on the library server. Citavi allows of course to save documents, but it also offers the possibility to make links to these documents. We can therefore point from Citavi to documents placed on the library server without having to make a copy on the Citavi server. This is also only possible thanks to the famous Citavi layer. When a user annotates a document in Citavi, the document itself is not modified. The annotations are placed on a layer next to the document. Exactly as if one placed tracing paper on the page one wants to annotate, rather than taking notes with a pencil in a paper book.

Our second concern was the intellectual structure of the projects. In Citavi, it is possible to create a tree structure for each project. This can, for example, be similar to the structure of the table of contents of the report to be written. For the sake of consistency, the Documentation-Library service wanted a tree structure specific to the RRC and not to each project. We have therefore developed a general classification for all RRC subjects representing all our fields of knowledge.  This classification is systematically imported in each new Citavi project.

The solutions brought by Citavi on these two aspects were determining in the progress of the project.

Need analysis

  • What were the department’s work habits, what were the work processes? What tools were used before the launch of this project?

The authors and researchers stored the references found in Excel files. This Excel database contained, in addition to the bibliographic information, the links to the documents, either free of rights, or deposited on the computers of our collaborators or on a shared server.

When a publication, a report, a journal article or a conference article had to be edited, the bibliographies were made manually by the authors themselves or by the Documentation-Library service on the basis of the data contained in the Excel table.

  • What were the blocking points or inefficiencies of your previous solution?

It was a very tedious work for researchers to manage those enormous tables, and to look up and sometimes complete the information in the Excel files. The documentation team often had to do research to improve the accuracy of the references.

As I mentioned earlier, in the scientific world, rigor is required and this is certainly true for citations and sources. Plagiarism, copyright, the value and consistency of information cannot be ignored.

  • In which department was the solution implemented?

Citavi has been implemented in all areas of the company.

Today, anyone who feels that they need Citavi for their work can request that it be installed on their computer. Mostly colleagues that use Citavi are scientific writers, researchers and technology consultants, which represents about half of the staff.


  • What were the expectations of this project? What needs were previously determined by your users?

Our main needs were on one hand to improve collaboration and information sharing and, on the other hand, to simplify the work method and accelerate the process while guaranteeing the final quality.

  • What specific technical requirements in terms of integration with your IT environment did Citavi have to meet?

We definitely wanted software where the documents could be stored on our servers, because of the confidential nature of our research. Security and Storage were at the very core of our the decision-making process.


  • What technical infrastructure could be integrated to the one existing at BBRC ?

The CRR library is equipped with an integrated library management system: PMB, published by PMB Services. On a search result in our catalog, Citavi detects the references and imports the data in a simple click thanks to the Citavi Picker tool. This tool is precious, it can be used on many other online databases and is very appreciated.

The integration of the URLs of the “library” documents in Citavi allows a direct consultation without duplicating files.

It works very well!

  • So what is the purpose of the working process between your integrated solutions and Citavi today?

Today, as soon as a new research topic is validated, a Citavi project is created. The end-users store the result of their documentary research in this Citavi project. Thanks to the Picker tool, our users can consign documentation from our databases in their Citavi project dedicated to their work without duplicating the information which remains centralized on our pre-existing infrastructure.

When writing research reports, the Citavi project is automatically linked to the report project in Word. Throughout the writing process, the Citavi tool is available and the integration of knowledge elements and references is automatic.


  • What benefits has the integration of the Citavi solution into your infrastructure brought in terms of productivity?

The collaborative functionalities of Citavi is very beneficial to the RRC : our researchers do not work alone, they work in teams on common projects. The collaborative aspect of Citavi is clearly an asset. We now have an extremely fluid collaboration without unnecessary steps. It makes communication much easier.

With Citavi our work is much more meticulous, has less encoding or copy-paste errors in the output of our bibliography, and conforms to the standards and needs of publications.

Citavi preserves our original documents, without the need to duplicate them, we can add the elements of knowledge.

In summary, Citavi has brought us a better collaboration in our whole research process, a better result in terms of quality, a huge saving of time and an ease of knowledge sharing.

  • To what extent have you improved the efficiency of your document sharing system?

The new process for our document sharing system make it at least centralized, thanks to Citavi.

  • Which technical and/or structural and organizational points would you like to see improved in the following versions of Citavi

The main improvement that the editor could bring would be a SAAS version (i.e., QSR International, the editor of Citavi has just released a Cloud version of its application, named Citavi Web:

Citavi Web lets you work anywhere you have internet, on any operating system, whether it’s Mac OS, Windows, or Linux. All you need is a current browser.

Indeed, the installation on a workstation is today a technical constraint that requires an intervention of our IT services, and it adds a process for any new user.

The interface might be a bit old-fashioned. Having that said, it offers a lot of functionalities which is also what I appreciate, but it can be a bit confusing if you are not properly trained.

There should be more possibilities to integrate other catalogues. There are already many catalogues but some are missing from the list, even if the Picker works very well to extract references from online catalogues directly in the web interface via DOI or ISBN.

RITME’s role and expertise

  • How did RITME provide its expertise throughout the integration process and what were the benefits of being able to call on RITME to assist you in all stages of the implementation? On which particular points did you find that RITME was able to accelerate and fluidify the communication between the different actors of this project?

RITME’s service was very responsive. They promptly visited us to assess our needs and evaluate how the Citavi solution could be integrated. They were also very available to answer all our questions. We were therefore able to move forward fairly quickly on the steps required to set up this project, and organise a meeting with the IT specialists and our documentalists.

RITME brought together two languages and two worlds. RITME really acted as an intermediary between the technical side and the operational side, which is our research teams. When you go through a service provider, that’s the minimum you expect, and it went very well!

I was then in contact with RITME several times on more difficult questions. The publisher responds very, very quickly when we need to call on them directly, but there is still a language barrier and it’s really comfortable to have an intermediary between the publisher and us to overcome this problem.

RITME is both a translator in the sense of languages, but it is also a ‘technical’ translator, an ‘interface’ between the different actors of the two worlds: Technical and Scientific.

RITME also provided on-site training This is also very important.

It was really very good because it was what we were expecting, i.e. a global training which really tackles the software in its entirety. This allowed us, documentalists, to really master the tool and provide End users inhouse training afterwards.

So now, when someone arrives at the Centre, there is no need to call on RITME. We are the ones who give the training. So we are autonomous with the software!

I would also say that RITME’s support is very benevolent.

Even if some of the reminders have sale or marketing purposes, they always aim to make us aware of important matters to us: that our maintenance period is about to end or that our subscriptions are about to expire. Unlike other providers who harass us with messages, RITME accompanies and contacts its users only when it is necessary. RITME cares for its customers, and does not aggress them.

  • What improvements could suggest to our team?

The improvement that RITME needs to make is on the training side: the content is excellent and totally met our needs to discover the software, but all our researchers are highly qualified speak English more than fluently : the trainer’s level of English could have been better. And maybe hire some Dutch-speaking training staff?

i.e.: Since this interview we have had Citavi trainers who can teach in English, French, German and Italian. We are not yet able to train Citavi in Dutch, but we are working on it.