Citation management programs allow you to build personal research libraries, generate citations and bibliographies, and much more.
How do citation management programs help?
What are citation management programs NOT able to do?
These programs will not always create a perfect bibliography or reference list. For example, you will still have to know APA, MLA, or Chicago and check over your results. It will not correct errors or omissions that were in the database from which you retrieved references. It will not always know what type of material you are putting into it from a database (e.g. it cannot always distinguish a proceeding from a book).
|Cost and License||
Free and Open Source
As an open-source tool, Zotero is free in two senses of the word: you don’t need to pay to use it, and you are guaranteed complete ownership over your research materials and data.
Free and Proprietary
Mendeley is free though as a proprietary company there is no guarantee that it will stay this way. Mendeley requires users to be logged in, so if their owners decided to stop supporting their software, or even if their services were down temporarily, you would be unable to open your library.
Mac, Windows, Linux, and Web Version
Zotero is primarily a program that runs on your desktop computer. If you choose to create an account and sync your data, you’ll also have access to your web library on zotero.org. However, while the web library allows you to view and edit your data and access synced files, for full functionality you’ll want to install Zotero on each synced computer.
Zotero does not have a mobile app.
Windows, Mac*, Mobile App, and Web Version
You can access Mendeley on any computer through the desktop client, web browser, or using your mobile app. Your library is backed up in the cloud when you sync and is always available to you.
* While Mendeley offers an Mac version, it is optimized for Windows which can lead to issues for Mac users.
|Word Processor Integration||Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and LibreOffice||Microsoft Word|
Web Clipper (Chrome & Firefox) & Custom Plugins
Zotero's webclipper has an unmatched ability to save high-quality publication data from websites, journal articles, newspapers, and more, or to retrieve publication data for PDFs you drag in. It is ideal for researchers working with unconventional formats like archival materials, government documents, and law.
Beyond Zotero’s own features, a plugin system allows outside developers to add advanced functionality to Zotero, such as pdf annotation.
Web Clipper (Chrome), PDF Annotation & Social Networking
Mendeley's webclipper imports materials from Chrome to your Mendeley Library. Mendeley is also well known for its native PDF annotation which allows users to highlight their research materials and export summaries of notes.
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