Citation Manager or Reference Manager software helps you gather, organize, and format materials for your research. Essentially fancy file organizers, they add benefit to your life by reading and syncing the articles/books/other media files you download, with their metadata (information about the article like title, author, date, etc.). With a citation or reference manager, you no longer have to go searching through your computer to find that PDF you used once last year. You can simply browse the folders of your citation manager and find it by the title, author, journal title, etc.
Citation and Reference Managers are also incredibly useful in citing, quoting, and referencing work. They integrate with most word processors, and allow you to connect your library of downloaded content, with the document you are writing. They can help with formatting, and allow you to copy and paste your entire bibliography in one step.
How are the Tools Different?
The differences among these tools has to do with how to import and export information, and the ease in which you can manage the information.
EndNote is primarily an application that runs locally on your computer. You can sync your EndNote libraries on multiple personal computers by creating an EndNote Online account.
RefWorks is an online, cloud-based service.
ZBib and Zotero is a web browser add-on (for Firefox, Chrome, or Safari) that connects to a “standalone” database on your computer. You can sync your Zotero libraries on multiple personal computers by creating an account at www.zotero.org
EndNote is similar to RefWorks, in that it is also integrated into many (not all) catalogs and databases as a link or drop-down menu, making it easy to export citations from within the item record.
RefWorks is integrated into many (not all) library catalogs and databases. There is often a link or drop-down menu within an item record for you to export a citation. Using RefWorks, you will be guided to the sign-in page and once you sign in, the citation will be placed in your 'Last Imported' folder.
If a catalog or database is compatible with Zotero, an icon will appear in the URL address bar (looking like a book, page, or newspaper, depending on the medium of the item) and one click will add the information to your library. Even websites like Amazon.com support Zotero.
Which Tool Should I Use?
There are several popular and common citation managers that students, faculty, and researchers use. Once upon a time, these had different and unique features that made one tool better for certain disciplines or types of research projects. These days, however, most of these tools share most of the same features. Here you'll find some information about each tool and which one you may want to use.
*Please Note, although some folks in the library know a little about these tools, the only software we formally support are Zoteroand ZBib.
EndNote is a commercial product provided...
RefWorks is a commercial product provided...
Zotero and ZBib are open source applications developed by the Center for History and New Media, available to everyone at no cost. Get started with Zotero...
Mendelay is a commercial product provided...
All tools allow you to:
Import metadata from a library catalog (BobCat), a database (ProQuest, JSTOR, etc.), or a PDF
Organize saved information into folders, with the ability to search and edit
Insert formatted citations into research papers and create bibliographies in a variety of styles, such as APA, MLA, Chicago and more