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Natural Science Seminar Guide: Reference Managers



Choosing a Reference Manager

A reference manager, also known as a citation manager or personal bibliography manager, is a piece of software that allows you to collect, store, organize, and cite bibliograhic resources (like journal articles, books, and websites).  There is a wide variety of reference managment software available on the web (see Wikipedia's list), with a wide range of capabilities.  This guide currently features in-depth information on two modern reference managers: Zotero and Mendeley.

Both of these tools are free to download and use.  They both offer advanced features such as:

  • Importing items directly from a web browser
  • Expandable cloud storage for your library
  • Collaborative and social features

And of course, the most important feature:

  • Generating citations automatically

Which one you choose will be a matter of personal perference.  Zotero's biggest strength is the ability to import content from nearly anywhere on the web with highly accurate results.  This means less time spent manually entering information like author names, journal titles, and dates.  On the other hand, Mendeley excels at offering social and sharing features, which can help you find popular papers in your discipline and citations related closely to yours.  Mendeley also has a companion iOS app for you iPhone or iPad.

Other popular reference managers not covered by this guide include:

CiteULike (free)

NoodleTools (free and paid)

EndNote (paid)

Papers (paid)

RefWorks (paid)