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Reference managers: Home

Introduction

This page provides a quick introduction to reference managers.

What are reference managers?

Reference management software (also known as citation managers or bibliographic managers) allow you to capture, store and organise references, and to automatically generate a bibliography/list of references.

Some also allow you to store and even annotate PDFs, and also have social networking options. Plugins for Microsoft Word, Google Docs, etc allow you to generate in-text references.

These tools work very well with articles in journals. However, not all references for books will be perfectly rendered by such tools, and some sources - particularly non academic sources - might need to be edited or entered manually.

Do I need to use this software?

If you are enthusiastic about technology, and like the idea of creating a personal library of research papers, you will enjoy using reference management software and it will almost certainly be useful to you.

This software is routinely used by PhD students and academic researchers. However, not all researchers use them, and most students on taught courses do not.

Quick alternatives

To automatically generate a reference, you can use the ‘cite this’ feature on Google Scholar and copy and paste the reference from there.

Another alternative if you are an MS Word user, is to go to the Researcher button under the ‘references’ tab, which will allow you to insert references from a collection powered by MS Bing.

As with the reference management software, you may need to edit these references.

What are my options?

The most well-known software are Refworks, Endnote, Zotero and Mendeley. The key features of these are described below.

Refworks

Web-based
Subscription required (paid for by the university)
Plugins for MS Word, and Google Docs

Zotero

Integrated browser, desktop and mobile app
Free Plugins for MS Word and Google Docs
300 MB free storage (is quite limited)

Mendeley

Mendeley Reference Manager is web-based (Mendeley Desktop is still available but is no longer being developed)
Free Plugin for MS Word
Social networking Storage and in-app annotation of PDFs 2GB free storage (you have to pay if you want more)

Endnote (desktop)

PC or Mac
Subscription required (paid for by the university)
Plugins for MS Word, and Pages

Endnote (online)

Free Plugins for MS Word
Integration with Web of Science