What is a citation manager?
These are personal citation databases and bibliography creators that allow you to import, store, organize, and share your research citations and automatically format your bibliographies into whatever style you need (APA, MLA, Chicago, and many more). Most also allow you to annotate sources, attach pdfs and other files, and share content with others.
Which one should I use?
In the table below are comparisons of three commonly used citation managers: EndNote Basic, Mendeley, 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 a good idea to also 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. Consider your comfort level with the different types of support offered by each tool (customer service phone number, user forums, etc.). Other factors to weigh include integration with your preferred web browser and word processing program and the amount of available storage for citations and attachments.
Although learning to use a citation management tool does take an investment in time, 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.)