What is a citation manager?
It's a personal citation database and bibliography creator that allows you to import, store, organize, and share your research citations. It will also automatically format your bibliographies into whatever style you need (APA, MLA, Chicago, and many more). Most citation managers will allow you to annotate sources, attach PDFs and other file types, as well as share content with others.
Which one should I use?
UW Libraries provides support for four citation managers: EndNote Basic, Mendeley, RefWorks, and Zotero. These citation managers provide the same basic features -- they will all allow you to save citations, organize them into folders or libraries, and generate bibliographies and citations as you write. Which one you choose depends on your own preferences and work style. It's also a good idea to talk to other researchers in your department, discipline, or research team to see if people you might collaborate with are already using one particular tool.
Some things to consider:
- How comfortable are you with the types of support associated with each tool (i.e. customer service, user forums, online tutorials, etc.)?
- Is it compatible with your preferred web browser and word processing program?
- How much storage does it offer for citations and attachments?
Learning to use a citation management tool does take an investment in time. Keep in mind, however, that they are designed to save you time long term. Also remember that you can always change your mind and switch to another tool; reference data can be easily transferred from many programs. (Please note that attachments don’t always transfer.)
If you would like some support in choosing or learning to use a tool, make an individualized appointment with a graduate student librarian at the Research Commons! We are here to help you!
Use this chart to compare features of the four UW supported tools. Consider these questions: Do you use multiple devices to access your citations? Do you have steady access to the internet? Which web browser do you prefer to use? What tools are your colleagues using? Also consider which databases and catalogs you frequent. The best way to figure it out is to set up an account and try it!
*EndNote also has a desktop version available for purchase
*For a longer of list of citation managers and their features, see Wikipedia’s Comparison of Reference Management Software
Table last updated: 1/1/2017
Some of the citation managers supported at UW (Zotero, Mendeley) include social networking aspects. Other services that facilitate communication with academic colleagues who share research interests: