Overview of Citation Softwares: Managing your References

Let's face it, writing a research paper is not a simple task to say the least and surely we can agree managing your references and citations is time consuming if you don't use a citation software. I found this post on MIT Libraries that compares three of the most used reference managers: EndNote, Zotero and Mendeley that is worth sharing.

Currently I am using EndNote, and honestly I don't have any experience with any other reference manager software. Personally I cannot but say that I feel very comfortable using EndNote because it always me to synchronize my references between my Home and Work computers threw my EndNote account. But what I find the most useful is the ability to auto-attach my pdf files to its reference by simply importing them to my EndNote from Google Scholar for example. It can be very troubling to sort your files into categories, rename each file and pdf and yes, accessing that article you downloaded last month can be challenging. Hopefully this post that I re-blogged from MIT Libraries can help you choose your reference manager software. (Source)

What is citation software?

Citation software helps you to:
  • import citations from your favorite databases and websites.
  • build and organize bibliographies.
  • format citations for papers.
  • take notes on articles and save them in your collection of citations.
  • save and organize PDFs, screenshots, graphs, images, and other files for your research.

Which program is right for you?

The MIT Libraries support EndNoteRefWorksZotero, and Mendeley. How do you know which program is right for you? Some things to think about when you choose:
  • What programs are your colleagues using? For example, if fellow researchers are all using Zotero to share citations, you might consider Zotero so that you can share your research, too.
  • Use what you like! There is no one perfect program, so use what you're comfortable with.
  • You can use more than one software. Records can be transferred from one program to another, so don't feel limited to choosing only one.

  • Excellent for organizing citations for papers and theses
  • Good customer support
  • Highly customizable
  • Can handle a large amount of references
  • Simple download of records
  • Good for managing a variety of formats, including web pages
  • Lots of functionality in an open-source product.
  • Downloads records from several databases that don't work with other citation products, including Factiva, USPTO, Espacenet, & FreePatentsOnline.
  • Can share citations and documents with others
  • Great for managing PDFs
  • Does a good job of pulling citation metadata from PDFs
  • Can share citations and documents with others
Desktop client software; also has web interface, EndNote Web, through Web of Knowledge.
Desktop software and browser add-on for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.
Desktop software and web-based. Works with IE, Firefox, Chrome and Safari.
Between $100-200. Find out cost & purchase software at MIT Coop, or at a discount through GovConnection via ECAT3.
Web version free with software purchase, or to MIT users through Web of Science. Note: EndNote Web isn't as robust as the desktop version.
Free with 300MB of back-up storage. Storage & group upgrades available for a reasonable monthly fee. Open source. 
Free with 2GB of web space. MIT users have access to enhanced storage and group upgrades. See our Mendeley guide for details.
Learning curveTakes longer to learn, but not difficult with training.Quick to learn; simple design, many online user guides and demos.Quick to learn; Pretty simple interface.
How does it work?
Export references from compatible databases into EndNote.
Zotero can tell when you are looking at an item and shows an icon for it in the browser's URL bar.  Click the icon to add the item to your Zotero references.
Export references from compatible databases. Mendeley will also retrieve metadata for pdfs that are brought in.
How simple is it to import records?Simple to import records from most research databases.Very simple, as long as the resource is compatible with Zotero.Very simple using the Mendeley browser plugin. However, the import doesn't work with as many databases as other products.
What kinds of records can you import and organize (PDFs, images, etc.)?
Best with records for traditional formats (articles, books, etc.).
PDFs and other file types can also be stored in the records.
Traditional formats (books, articles, patents), as well as web pages.
PDFs, web screenshots, and other file types can also be stored in the records.
Best with records for traditional formats (articles, books, etc.).
PDFs and other file types can also be stored in the records.
Can you search within PDFs
Yes, but search isn't intuitive.
Yes. Make PDFs searchable by choosing to index them in the preferences menu.
Yes. Highlights the words you are searching for.
Are records in your library viewable by others?No.Yes, if you choose to share them. You can set up individual and group profiles and share records.Yes, if you choose to share them. You can set up individual and group profiles and share records.
Can you export records to other citation software?Yes.Yes.Yes.
Does it work with word processing software?Yes. Powerful formatting and customization features in Word; also works with LaTeX through BibTeX and Open Office.Yes. Works with Word and LibreOffice; also works with LaTeX through BibTeX. You can create a list of Works Cited for Google Docs.Yes. Works with Word and OpenOffice; also works with LaTeX through BibTeX.
Does it back up your records?No.Yes, if you choose to back up or sync your Zotero library. A small amount of storage is free.Yes.
Can you annotate PDFs (highlight & make notes)?Yes.No.Yes.
Other important features
  • Has a "find full text" option to download full text for records (when you have access to the PDF)
  • Can be used for collaborative work with groups
  • Will automatically attach PDFs to records if you choose
  • If you back up records, you can sync multiple computers
  • Integrated with work on web that you do
  • Very good for collaborative work
  • If you back up records, you can sync multiple computers
Does it have a mobile site or app?Yes, an iPad app.Yes, a mobile site throughzotero.org. There's also an app called ZotPad for iPhone/iPad.Yes, an app for iPhone/iPad.
Link to vendor documentationTechnical Support & ServicesDocumentationSupport


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