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Citing and Citation Managers

Introduction

Citation managers (also known as citation management software, reference managers etc.),
are available to help you collect, organize, cite and share references.

"Many students struggle when citing sources in their research papers and have turned to web-based citation tools in increasing numbers" (Homol, 2014, p.552).

Benefits of Citation Managers

Manually formatting citations can be very time intensive! Familiarizing yourself with a citation manager early in your academic career can help keep you organized and can save you large amounts of time by obviating the need to manually format your citations.
 
In addition to being a great tool for academic writing, citation managers can also help you collect, organize and store information sources for other purposes. Citation managers are strongly recommended for research projects such as systematic reviews.
 

Citation managers allow you to:

  • Manage all of your sources in one place.
  • Upload and store full-text PDFs and other file types for your sources.
  • Generate formatted bibliographies in desired format.
  • Install plug-ins for word processors that allow you to insert citations from the reference manager as you write.
  • Organize your references into meaningful collection folders that may serve a variety of purposes.
  • Share collections with colleagues to collaborate in private or open groups.
  • Facilitate the removal of duplicate citations.

http://blogs.lib.utexas.edu/undergraduates/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/citations_comic.png
Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.

How Citation Managers Work


Choosing a Citation Manager

Choosing a citation manager that's right for you largely depends on the intended purpose and may be different for undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty members.

You may find it useful to consult with your peers and faculty supervisors to get their advice on appropriate software.

There are more than two dozen different citation management programs available and many are free or free up until a certain storage capacity.

Three popular and freely available citation managers include: EndNote Basic, Mendeley and Zotero.

All 3 of these citation managers:

  • Offer Word processor integration so you can cite from the citation manager while you write in Word.
  • Generate bibliographies in a number of different citation styles including APA, Vancouver and CSE.
  • Are compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems.

For more information about using these programs, see the pages for EndNote, Mendeley and Zotero.

Comparison of Citation Managers

Detailed comparisons of citation managers can be found online and as published journal articles.

Bibliography

Bhargava, P., Patel, V. B., Iyer, R. S., Moshiri, M., Robinson, T. J., Lall, C., & Heller, M. T. (2015). Academic portfolio in the digital era: Organizing and maintaining a portfolio using reference managers. Journal of digital imaging, 28(1), 10-17.

Courraud, J. (2014). Zotero: A free and open-source reference manager. Medical Writing, 23(1), 46-48.

Homol, L. (2014). Web-based citation management tools: Comparing the accuracy of their electronic journal citations. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 40(6), 552-557.

Kali, A. (2016). Reference management: A critical element of scientific writing. Journal of advanced pharmaceutical technology & research, 7(1), 27.

Lorenzetti, D. L., & Ghali, W. A. (2013). Reference management software for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: an exploration of usage and usability. BMC medical research methodology, 13(1), 141.
 
Nilashi, M., Dalvi, M., Ibrahim, O., Zamani, M., & Ramayah, T. (2016). An interpretive structural modelling of the features influencing researchers’ selection of reference management software. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 0961000616668961.
 
Salem, J., & Fehrmann, P. (2013). Bibliographic management software: a focus group study of the preferences and practices of undergraduate students. Public services quarterly, 9(2), 110-120.
 
Technische Universität München Library. (2015). Reference Management Software Comparison. 5th update. Available at: https://mediatum.ub.tum.de/doc/1274008/1274008.pdf (accessed 28 November 2016).