Bibliography Reference Manager

There are a number of options available to the BU community for free or via our subscriptions to databases.  Here are some key points to consider when choosing what will work best for you:

You should choose RefWorks if...

  • You may need to save hundreds of references
  • You want to export many references from scholarly databases
  • You would like to insert in-text citations and bibliographies into MS Word or Google Docs
  • You prefer a web-based manager (i.e. the data lives on a server)

You should choose Zotero if...

  • You want to easily "grab" information from a document, web page, or search results list
  • You like a simple citation-editing interface
  • You work with the Mozilla Firefox web browser, or you don't mind using a stand-alone app along with Chrome or Safari
  • You prefer a plug-in or app-based manager (i.e. the data lives on your hard drive, but you can sync it to a Zotero server)

You should choose Mendeley if...

  • You want to organize and upload documents already on your hard drive
  • You value an information-sharing experience that connects you to colleagues worldwide
  • You want to showcase your publications and scholarly impact
  • You prefer a web-based manager (i.e. the data lives on a server, but you can sync it to the Mendeley Desktop app)

You should choose EndNote Basic* if...

  • You are already comfortable working with EndNote's desktop app
  • You work mainly with Web of Science or other Thomson Reuters databases
  • You want to share references with other EndNote users
  • You prefer a web-based manager (i.e. the data lives on a server, but you can sync it to the EndNote library on your hard drive)

If you want more information, the University of Toronto has created an extensive comparison table with even more options.

*The BU Libraries do not provide licenses for the full version of EndNote.  If you are interested in purchasing it, please see this page from BU Information Services and Technology.

Bibliography management tools (also known as citation or reference management tools) help you organize your research sources and generate bibliographies in muliple citation formats.

Stanford University Libraries support the following bibliography management tools:

Choosing a citation style

For most papers, you will need to format your bibliography according to the citation style specified by your instructor or publisher. Some of the citation styles used at Stanford include:

  • MLA (Modern Language Association)
  • APA (American Psychological Association)
  • Chicago (The Chicago Manual of Style)

For more information about citation styles see: Working with Citations,  Purdue Online Writing Lab  and the Plagiarism section of the Stanford University Honor Code.

Choosing a citation management tool

All of the tools will help you organize your research references and all include a plug-in for word processing programs to format citations and create bibliographies. But some of the tools offer other features, such as support for collaboration, a web-based interface, and mobile applications.

The Stanford University Libraries provide campus-wide subscriptions to RefWorks and Mendeley. EndNote Web is part of the Stanford University Libraries' subscription to Web of Knowledge.  Zotero is an open source tool with basic features at no charge.

The following comparison charts may help you choose a tool that is best for you:

Bibliography management workshops

Several libraries on campus provide workshops and drop-in help sessions on citation management tools.

Stanford Libraries workshops

Lane Medical Library workshops

Need more help?

For more help on citation management tools, email the Reference Manager Users list.

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