20 Reasons why you should not switch from EndNote X9 to EndNote 20!

EndNote X9 vs EndNote 20

Based on the Diffusion of innovations theory, I consider myself a late adopter of innovations. I read reviews before upgrading, and after hearing from my colleagues, I resisted for a year to upgrade to EndNote 20! I allowed time for other excited users to do the beta-testing, report errors, report the solutions online, and changes due to user experience (UX).

We usually upgrade because we think it is free or low cost. A good example is when you have free institutional access to an update, and you say what the hell? Why not? It is free. Nothing is free, dear. We pay the price with our money, time, and data.

Yes, we finally got the following features:

  1. After decades of users’ requests, DOI or PMCID fields are among the de-duplicable fields;
  2. Tabs to do multi-tasking (Learned from Internet Browsers);
  3. Browser-based extension to create references of webpages (Learned from its free competitor: Zotero);
  4. Retractions detection (Learned from its free competitor: Zotero).

Good 4, but at such a price! It reminds me of when I wanted money to buy chewing gum with a picture of a famous football player in its wrapping, and my parents made me run the errands that would probably be worth 300 gums! I know! Child labour from my point of view, but the return on investment from parents’ point of view!

Here are the reasons to delay your upgrade or switch to another programme:

Reason 1: The mandatory Simple Search box at the start cannot be closed until you go for Advanced search and close 3 search boxes (4 clicks compared to 1 in EndNote X9).

Reason 2: To bring the search box back, you must go to the Library menu and click it (2 clicks compared to 1 in EndNote X9).

Reason 3: Switching between search modes, the search may disappear completely. You must close the library completely and re-open it to get it back (fingers crossed).

Reason 4: When you close 1 or 2 of 3 boxes in advance search, all 3 boxes get closed!

Reason 5: If you run a search and delete a record from the result, the search results disappear, and you must repeat the same search to see the results again.

Reason 6: Now, you need to look up the options that were set in a standard menu for about two decades! Example: Find Duplicates (From References to Library menu).

Reason 7: You can open 1 record at a time, while in X9, you could have selected and opened 10 records by pressing the Enter key (twice more clicks, no keyboard option).

Reason 8: Enter key does not open the record. You must double-click/tap on a record (2 clicks vs 1 Enter; no keyboard option).

Reason 9: When you double click on a record, it shows the summary of the record, not the editable record, and it requires clicking edit.

Reason 10: You have no choice but to see empty fields in the record and scroll more.

Reason 11: Display options from the downright corner are gone. Where? I have no idea yet. Probably completely gone!

Reason 12: Left pane has a set width that cannot be reduced or closed.

Reason 13: ‘Show selected references’ is gone.

Reason 14: Easy access toolbar buttons have been replaced by menus.

Reason 15: ‘Search in showing references’ is gone. You must open a new tab for the references you want to search and add those references to a group before starting the search.

Reason 16: Befriended by Windows 10; dysfunctions with Windows 7; some labs have no choice but to use older windows to be compatible with other lab devices. An upgrade to Windows 10 is not affordable because they would need to pay a high price to upgrade the hardware and software linked to other programs (if their Windows 10-compatible upgrade exists).

Reason 17: You have no choice on the location of the Reference pane; it will always open on the right-hand side after a double-click.

Reason 18: It closes itself with no warning or explanation!

Reason 19: You no longer can close the reference pane with Alt+F4; you have to move the mouse cursor to X and close it. Now that there are tabs, why not open 10–20 selected records with a press of the Enter key in 10–20 tabs so they can be closed by Alt+F4?

Reason 20: Lack of respect for UX, users’ time, suggestions, data, or receiving good value for the money.

The least Clarivate could have done was not to touch the features that have not been reported to be a problem and only work on problematic or missing requested features, but look at the list of good features removed! Look at the amount of time that users have spent ‘for free’ to report errors and suggestions here. If spending your time and money is not enough, why not spend you data! Instead of collecting the suggestions from social media, they expect you to sign up in their system and pay with your data (email address) and report the issues! From experience, implementing suggestions takes decades: Example: addition of DOI among de-duplicable fields!

Many of the suggestions and errors reported a year ago have not been taken care of. In a corporate structure, you don’t have to do anything as long as the money flows in. So as long as you use EndNote, nothing is going to change.

Since you have paid for EndNote, if and when you are not happy, they should usually have a mechanism to satisfy you. Some programmes offer free annual access for you helping them or because they have wasted your time. Other programmes provide complimentary access to other sources. Not EndNote. They expect you to pay more, this time with a better currency: your time (life). They expect you to report the error, suggestions, and UX issues for free! If you don’t report, you will suffer, but they will enjoy the monetary payments. If you do report, it may take decades until they get it done. Remember how long it took for EndNote to add the DOI field among the de-duplication fields. Imagine how long will it take until EndNote ignores the empty fields in de-duplication.

It seems Clarivate does not have a user testing group, so spot the UX issues before release. They probably don’t even have UX experts because they would cost them, so they prefer to have free slaves (us, the users) to do the UX job for them. Anyone who has used EndNote X9 would notice that Clarivate has not put enough effort, attention, or care into EndNote 20.

Serious Problem

Exclusivity is a problem with commercial software programs. You can remember when Microsoft added an X at the end to file extensions (docx, pptx, and xlsx) and forced people to move from the older version of Office to the newer versions because the older versions could not open the files with the new extensions? This is the same with EndNote, the more recent versions open the older versions but not the other way around!

However, with Microsoft files, you could have opened them with other programmes such as Open Office or Google Docs. How am I supposed to open all my previous EndNote libraries if I remove EndNote from my computer? Am I a slave? Do you know any other programmes (preferably an open source one) that can open EndNote Library and could replace EndNote? I know EndNote will learn other features from Zotero, RefWorks, and Citavi, but it learns very late.


EndNote 20 reminds me of Microsoft’s Windows Vista.

If this version was adequately tested, it was easy to detect that the tasks that used to take a single click now require double or more effort. Some tasks can only be done by input from tapping/clicking with no option on the keyboard.

Good programmes detect UX issues retrospectively and before release and not prospectively and decades afterwards.

Suggestions that were reported a year ago by the users have not been fixed because the change will happen only if there are enough screams caused by huge pain and there are enough times wasted on reporting the pain. The question is why does Clarivate cause such pain in the first place? This is not agile development, where are the pre-relase end users to test the programme. Did they ask for extra clicks?

If you can, do not use EndNote 20 until the removed features of X9 are back. You see, these things happen when you stick to a brand. Brand loyalty makes you vulnerable to abuse. I still think EndNote is suitable for De-duplication, but that’s it. I am seriously considering using Zotero, Mendeley, RefWorks, or Citavi and looking forwards to hearing from you and writing a new blog on how to migrate from EndNote to the most suitable programme. I will update the post accordingly.

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A Proper Information Scientist/Professional with a Pinch of Career and Life Lessons

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A Proper Information Scientist/Professional with a Pinch of Career and Life Lessons

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