When working on extensive research projects, you will need to collect, organize and format all the various materials (articles, books etc.) that will be used in the final project.
Citation Managers are tools that help you keep track of, and organize, this personal research library. They allow you to:
Learning a specific citation manager is an investment of time, but it will pay off in the long run!
Below are basic how-to guides for the citation managers we support at Penn State.
Penn State also has access to a "lite" version of Refworks, but it is not recommended because of a lack of the advanced functionality needed by graduate students and researchers.
Choosing between Zotero, Mendeley, and EndNote
These popular citation managers all provide the same basic features and functionality with a few exceptions and some features specific to particular tools. Use the chart below to narrow down your choices, the rest is personal preference. Talk to people in your department – some disciplines tend to use one tool more than others.
|Web based?||Can sync with online account; connectors for Firefox, Chrome and Safari and Opera available||Not primarily, but can sync with an online account which is editable||Yes, with EndNote basic account||Yes|
|Must be online?||No||No||No||Yes|
|Cost||Free for basic account, some cost for more online storage space||Free for basic account, some cost for more online storage space||$$, Student discount through computer store||Free|
|Word-processor compatibility||MS Word, Open Office, Google Docs||MS Word, Open Office, LaTex||MS Office, Open Office, iWork Pages||MS Word|
|Import from databases||Yes||Yes||Direct export from specific databases||Yes|
|Import citation info from web pages||Yes, also archives the page and you can add annotations||Yes, with a bookmark for a limited number of sites (mostly publishers or databases)||Yes, with Web Capture tool and EndNote basic account||Yes, with Web Capture tool|
|Storage capacity||Unlimited local storage and data syncing; 100MB free Zotero file syncing (larger syncing plans available for purchase); or can use WebDav||Unlimited local storage and data syncing; 1GB personal and 100MB shared online space (larger online storage plans available for purchase)||Unlimited local storage||Limited to 50,000 citations and 2 GB of attachment storage|
|Attach associated files (PDFs, etc.)||Yes, with option to attach automatically||Yes, and can highlight and annotate PDFs||Yes, and can highlight and annotate PDFs||Yes|
|Search full text of PDFs||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Create group or shared libraries||Yes||Yes, free for up to 3 group members (larger group plans available for purchase)||Yes, with EndNote basic account||Yes|
|Create bibliography with different styles||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Automatic citation extraction from PDFs||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Other features||Sync library with multiple computers
Use tags to organize/search
|Sync library with multiple computers
Sync with Zotero library
|Insert figures and charts using word processor integration||