About reference managers…

2 minute read

As the final presentations begin in the weeks to come, many of us have become researchers; going through the academic literature, accumulating hundreds (if not tons) of documents for writing progress reports. This is where the reference managers come in handy. They eliminate the headache of managing references and ‘old fashioned’ way of performing citations manually.

The reference managers come in all sizes and shapes (as in prices and features!), each bringing in their own advantages and disadvantages and sometimes it gets difficult to choose which reference manager to use even though they perform the same task. Here is a table in which I put together information about different reference managers and their feature summary:

Reference Manager Features Advantages Disadvantages
Zotero Collect, Organize, Cite, and Collaborate Open source, Free, User-Friendly Designed more towards humanities and social sciences
Mendeley Works seamlessly on web, mobile, and desktop. All the above tools and special emphasis on collaboration. Free. Features can be extended using plug-ins. It has its own reference catalogue. Limited free storage (2 GB). Cannot create multiple libraries.
Endnote All of the above plus a little more sophisticated with tools like subject bibliography and find full-text option. Capture Reference tool to capture a source from non-standard journals, websites etc. Also, you can create multiple libraries with multiple databases. The software comes at a price of $249. Half of that if you are a student.
RefWorks All the above features. Web-based and requires a subscription. Access your library from any computer with internet. Large no. of citation styles. Works only with MS Word and Google Docs and limited offline access.
EasyBib Free online bibliography generator. Offers features like Grammar and Plagiarism checking option for a premium. Offers features like missing citation, grammar suggestions and plagiarism checks in the premium version. Limited styles in the free version. Serves ads.
Cite4me Free research and reference, have options like hire an editor for your work, Allows extensive plagiarism checks, helps with proofreading and paraphrasing. A less scholarly look, online-only feature, the site has a record of malfunctioning and they try to sneak in some charges or paid services once in a while.
Readcube Papers All of the above features plus iPad apps and in-built social network A large number of citation styles, online paper import, advanced annotation tools Need to purchase the software, does not work on Linux
Citavi All the above tools plus online service. Simplified reference review system. Easy to import reference from other databases. The interface is less user-friendly and sometimes it gets difficult to find the tools.
Bibme Free alternative to EasyBib, Works with Google Docs, Cool set of features for bloggers (you can add a link in the blog to the references used. Free, mines data from all sorts of places, provide suggestions in citation from time to time, offers built-in citation guide. Limited range of sources.

Now with this long list in place, it is your decision to choose which one you should really be using for your work.

Keep visiting this article for more updates about referencing tools and for learning material.