So how do you pick the best citation management software for you? There are many factors to consider. For example, if you are an undergraduate student, you might be looking for the fastest and easiest option—something with a short learning curve, which lets you grab citations and produce bibliographies in a snap. Oh, and let's not forget: it needs to be free or cheap.
If you're a graduate student or a faculty member, you might have different considerations: the software needs to work well with the databases you use frequently, it must be able to organize and filter a large number of citations, and it should be able to produce a bibliography in the primary style used in your discipline. If you're working on a research team, you'll also want to make sure the software allows you to collaborate with your colleagues smoothly.
We've put together a comparison chart below to help you examine the different features available and figure out the best option for you.
** Files can usually be saved and imported into a different citation management program quite easily. **
What is citation management software?
Citation management software, also called “bibliographic software”, allows you to organize, store, and retrieve information, such as citations for books, articles, and Web sites. You can simultaneously import records and PDFs from databases. You can add abstracts, keywords and other functions that enhance and improve the efficiency of your project. The citation manager then works with word-processing software to insert properly formatted footnotes or citations into a paper and create a bibliography.
What it won't do:
It will not always create a perfect bibliography or reference list according to your favorite style. For example, you will still have to know APA, MLA, Chicago or Turabian 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).
What are online citation builders?
These are free, online sites (such as EasyBib) that allow you to quickly create citations and bibliographies but not to store information or link to word-processing software.
How do I know which tool to use?
There is no one program that currently works best to support everyone's needs. Online citation builders are helpful when you are in a rush and have a small number of sources to manage. Citation software is more time consuming but extremely useful for handling larger. more complex citations and for its word processing compatibility. There are a variety of citation software tools available and each has its own strengths. The AU Library provides EndNote as a free download to the AU community. The Library also offers support for Zotero and Mendeley, two other citation software tools. Please see the comparison table of citation software below.