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Introduction to Zotero: What are Reference Management Tools?

What are Reference Management Tools?

Reference management tools are software or web-based tools that:

 

  • collect, store, organise and format references 

  • create bibliographies and in-text citations in a particular reference style

 

They are sometimes called citation tools. They work by storing the bibliographic information of items such as articles, and connecting with word processors so in-text citations and bibliographies can easily and automatically be created in a document. 

Choosing and Using Tools

When choosing a tool, consider:

 

  • Cost - Is there a cost involved?

  • Desktop/Online- Will you want to access the tool both off and online?

  • Storage - How many references and attachments (such as PDFs) can you store?

  • Word Processor - Is the tool compatible with the word processor you use? 

  • Reference Style - Does the tool format in your preferred style? 

  • Advantages - Does the tool offer specific features that meet your needs?

Take this short survey to identify what matters to you before you explore the guide!

Comparing Reference Management Tools

Sussex Library provides detailed guides for the most popular software

You can find a regularly updated Wikipedia guide to reference management software.

See the table below for a quick comparison.

Table

Software Cost Desktop/Online Storage Word processor Citation styles Advantages
EndNote Under the JISC Collections Endnote agreement (at no additional cost to the University) staff and students are able to install the software on their own devices for free. Both: Synchronise across your devices Unlimited Word, LibreOffice, OpenOffice, Pages 6000+ Collect the largest number of references; enhanced integration with Web of Science and PubMed; online support
EndNote Basic Free (with Sussex subscription) Online only 50,000 references; 2GB for attachment imports  Word 21 Free, limited version of EndNote
Mendeley Free (owned by Elsevier, an information and analytics company) Both: Synchronise across your devices 2GB free Word, OpenOffice, LibreOffice, NeoOffice 9000+ Integrated PDF tools; enhanced sharing with other researchers; online support
Zotero Free, open source Both: Synchronise across your devices 300MB free Word, OpenOffice, LibreOffice, NeoOffice 9000+ One-click capture with most databases; store a diverse range of sources; online community
Juris-M Free, open source Both: Synchronise across your devices  300MB free Word, OpenOffice, LibreOffice, NeoOffice 9000+ Enhanced legal and multilingual referencing 
Zotero Bib Free, open source Online only NA: One-off bibliographies stored in local browser Word, OpenOffice, LibreOffice, NeoOffice 9000+ Create one-off bibliographies without opening an account; may be especially useful for undergraduates