Web service helps students organize citations

Jason B. Gumer

A Northwestern student’s creation has made creating bibliographies a significantly easier and less time-consuming process.

During his junior year of high school, Weinberg junior Neal Taparia came up with the idea for easybib.com, a Web site that creates and stores properly formatted bibliographies. Along with his tech-savvy friend Darshan Somashekar, a senior at Brown University, Taparia designed the site, which receives millions of hits each month.

In his 11th grade English class, Taparia had been assigned a research paper that required him to use and cite numerous sources.

“The first thing that came to mind was, ‘God, I don’t want to create a bibliography,’ because there are so many sources and all these different formats,” Taparia said. “I had an idea. What if we could create software that could expedite the creation of bibliographies? So I talked to my buddy Darshan and within a month we had developed the software. We just picked up an MLA book and really plowed through it.”

Free of charge, the site allows users of EasyBib to input information such as title, author and publication date into the site. The software then creates a bibliography in proper Modern Language Association format that can be saved for later use on the site, exported to Microsoft Word, or printed.

Weinberg sophomore Katie Semmer is among many NU students who have used EasyBib.

“A friend of mine at Miami of Ohio told me about EasyBib,” Semmer said. “It helped out because I was writing my paper the night before it was due, and it is a lot easier than flipping through a MLA guide. It is very convenient.”

In addition to the free service, subscribers can pay $6 a year to use MyBibPro, which can format bibliographies in MLA or American Psychological Association style and create footnotes, among other premium features.

Besides fulfilling its original goal of making bibliographies easier to create, the site is paying off in other ways.

“We make around $4,000 to $5,000 a month now, which is pretty significant,” Taparia said. “We are just investing and saving it, we don’t want to throw away the money.”

He added, “We have revenue coming from Google advertising, the MyBibPro service, and a service we sell to schools called Bib4School. We have about 60 schools subscribing right now, and we make money from all of these sources.”

Over its four-year existence, the site has become increasingly popular among students.

“We get about 4 (million) to 5 million hits a month from users around the world, which is pretty incredible,” Taparia said. “We’ve got people from Spain, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and a ton of other places using the Web site.”

Taparia said teachers have also reacted favorably toward students using the site.

“One teacher made the comparison that EasyBib is like using a calculator in math, you just plug and chug,” he said. “It is something that you know how to do but it just makes it a lot easier and less time consuming.”

Taparia said that there is one major competing site called noodletools.com, but the service no longer is offered free of charge.

“We were students when we designed EasyBib so EasyBib is a lot more user friendly and is very much catered towards students and this is something we pride ourselves on,” Taparia said.

Medill freshman Amanda Palleschi uses EasyBib for her research papers.

“Frankly, sometimes it does not really suit my needs as it does not list things in the order my teachers want, but if you just need to format something in MLA it is perfect,” she said. “It cuts out some time and is great for lazy people who can’t figure out MLA format ourselves, which is a lot of us.”

Reach Jason Gumer at [email protected].