About this Guide: Start Here
With so many citation and research management software tools available, how do you know which one will work best for you? It's worth asking yourself a few basic but important questions before deciding on which citation manager you're going to use to support your research projects.
Use the chart below to determine which application would work best for your research and then the tabs across the top to learn more about each citation management tool.
|You would like to...||Suggested application(s)||Reason|
|work on multiple computers||
Zotero (PC/Mac/Linux) allows you the flexibility to sync your references across multiple computers as well as access your references online (in the cloud) by logging into your Zotero account at zotero.org.
RefWorks is web-based so you can collect and access your resources using any computer (PC/Mac/Linux) with an Internet connection.
Mendeley Desktop can be downloaded onto as many computers as you want and has full support for PC/Mac/Linux operating systems. Data synced on the desktop client is automatically backed up to the cloud.
|collect numerous web-based references and sources||Zotero||Zotero's translators make saving web-based content to your Zotero library very easy. Zotero allows you to capture websites and other web resources with one click. Zotero takes a snapshot of the website as it appears the moment you save it to your library. You won't have to worry about captured web content changing since Zotero stores the snapshot in your library. You can also add annotations to snapshots.|
|work collaboratively with others||
Use Zotero Groups to easily share your resources with others either privately or publicly.
Mendeley offers group functionality as well: open, invite-only, or private group members can share papers and notes.
RefShare by RefWorks allows researchers and scholars the ability to collaborate across institutions.
EndNote Web offers a Groups function to share references with other EndNote Web users.
|maintain access to your sources (i.e. beyond graduation, job change) so that you can continue to add over time||Zotero, Mendeley, Qiqqa||Many institutions offer citation tools while you're affiliated with the organization (student, faculty, staff). Once you graduate or leave that institution, your access to certain resources may be terminated. Use Zotero, Mendeley, and/or Qiqqa and you'll never have to worry about losing any of your academic resources.|
|organize a large number of PDF files that you already have saved on your computer||Mendeley, Qiqqa, Zotero||
Each of these tools (Mendeley, Qiqqa, and Zotero) allows you to organize your PDF collection as well as index them for easy searching and citing.
Note that Qiqqa is currently only available for Windows PC.
|generate a bibliography quickly for an assignment||BibMe, EasyBib, Zotero||
Web-based applications BibMe and EasyBib can quickly format a citation for you online which you can then copy and paste into your document, export to Microsoft Word, or save online for later.
Using Zotero's Quick Copy function, you can drag and drop a citation from your Zotero library into any text field (word processing document, Google doc, email, blog post, etc.) in order to instantly generate a works cited or bibliography.
|quickly cite a work in a popular bibliographic style (APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian)||BibMe, EasyBib||Both BibMe and EasyBib allow you to generate a citation very quickly using their Citation Guides. You can easily copy and paste the citation for quick use anywhere.|
|cite a work within my document
||Zotero, Refworks, EndNote, Qiqqa||
With Zotero, you can reference your Zotero library directly from your word processing document in order to add an in-text citation using a word processor integration plugin.
Using RefWorks' Write-N-Cite feature, you can add a citation to your word processing document.
Using EndNote Web's Cite While You Write™ feature, you can cite references within your Microsoft Word document.
Using Qiqqa's new Qiqqa InCite feature, you can create bibliographies and format your references using Microsoft Word.
|use a free tool||Zotero, Mendeley, Qiqqa, BibMe, EasyBib||
All of these tools are freely available for you to download (Zotero, Mendeley, Qiqqa) or start using online (BibMe, EasyBib) at any time.
* Note that upgrades in storage space and other premium features for certain applications are not free.
|use a desktop application to be installed on my main computer, on which I will conduct most of my research
||Mendeley, EndNote||Mendeley (PC/Mac/Linux) and EndNote (PC/Mac) are primarily desktop programs that work very well if you plan to use the same computer during your research. Both applications offer web-based access to your collected citations but are most robust if used on your primary computer.|
|work offline when I do not have acess to the Internet||Zotero, Mendeley, Qiqqa, EndNote||Zotero, Mendeley, Qiqqa, and EndNote all save your references and citations locally on your computer and can be accessed offline. Zotero, in particular, stores your library in your Firefox profile.|
|work in a specific citation style||Zotero, Qiqqa||
Zotero comes standard with about 16 citation styles but you can view an extensive list of all available styles at their website which you can download and install into your Zotero instance.
Given that Zotero is open source, if you don't see the specific citation style that you need, you can contact Zotero and they can work on its development. You can even create your own citation style.
Qiqqa supports all Citation Language Styles (CSL), just like Zotero.
|use a tool that is licensed and supported by my institution||RefWorks, EndNote||Many institutions not only license but also provide instruction and support for reference management tools such as RefWorks and EndNote. Consult your library's website or ask your librarian for specific details.|
|use a tool that works on my mobile device||
Mendeley Reference Manager (Lite) is available for free download at the iTunes App Store.
EasyBib has an iPhone app that you can download for free from the iTunes App Store.
RefWorks Mobile allows you to login to your RefWorks account on your mobile device in order to access your references and citations.
Android and iOS App developers have been hard at work creating a variety of Zotero mobile applications.
Qiqqa now has an Android Version in beta (and the Web Library is available from any mobile browser)
Special Projects Librarian
Consult these head-to-head reference/citation management tool comparisons:
- Choosing a Citation Manager (Penn State University Library)
- Citation Manager Comparison (UW-Madison)
- Which is the Right One For You? (PDF) (UW-Madison)
- Four Citation Managers Compared (PDF) (UW-Madison)
- Tool Comparison Matrix (Tufts)
- Citation Manager Comparison (University of Minnesota Libraries)
- Which Bibliographic Citation Manager Should I Use? (PDF) (Marquette University)
This Citation and Research Management Tools LibGuide by Marie Sciangula is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 United States License.