Reference Management Softwares

Reference management software also known as citation management software or personal bibliographic management is software that allows all manners of scientists, researchers and scholars to record and use citations when creating bibliographies. These programs will let you import citations from various databases and websites, build and organize bibliographies and format citations for papers. They can also save and organize PDFs, screenshots, graphs, images and other files for your research.

Why reference management softwares?

  • Import citations from bibliographic databases and websites
  • Gather metadata from PDF files
  • Organization of citations within the reference management database
  • Sharing of the reference management database or portions with colleagues
  • Data interchange with other reference management software through standard metadata formats
  • Produce formatted citations and bibliographies in a variety of styles
  • Work with word processing software to facilitate in-text citation (e.g. Word)

For the most common four software programs we would like to provide further information:

Which program fits your style? – a small comparison

Name of the softwareZoteroMendeleyPapersJabRef
How much does it cost?Free (300 MB), Open SourceFree (2 GB), commercial (Elsevier)Fee (e.g. single licences from 3-10 USD)Free, Open Source
How does it work?Web (platform-independent); Desktop-App with plugin (Firefox, Safari, Chrome)Web (platform-independent);
Desktop client (Windows, Mac, Linux)
Web (platform-independent);
Desktop client (Windows, Mac)
Desktop client (Windows, Mac, Linux)
Search in databases?yes, but ISBN, DOI, arXiv-ID or PubMed-ID onlyWeb onlyyesyes
Mobile Device Application?mobile version of; third-party appsApp for iOS and Android (synchronization)App for iOS and Android (synchronization)Windows tablets
Can datasets be linked?yesnonoyes
Export to BibTeX?yesyesyesyes
How many citation styles are available?+9.000+9.5008,000 CSL styles + 5,400 from scientific journalsNative BibTeX and Biblatex support
Can I collaborate with others?yesyesyesyes
Social software functionsExchange via interest groups;
own researcher profile;
people search
personal profile;
publishing of research data;
Information on open positions, funding

A more detailed comparison of the available reference management software can be found on the Wikipedia page “Comparison of reference management software


What is BibTeX?

BibTex is a bibliographic tool that is used with LaTeX to help organize the user’s references and create a bibliography. A BibTeX user creates a bibliography file, with the file extension  .bib, that is separate from the LaTeX source file. Each reference in the bibliography file is formatted with a certain structure and is given a “key” by which the author can refer to it in the source file. JabRef is a program for generating and editing BibTeX codes. For more information, click the link JabRef

What is LaTeX?

LaTeX is a typesetting program that takes a plain text file with various commands in it and converts it to a formatted document based on the commands that it has been given. The source file for the document has the file extension .tex.

For more information, click the link below
Mendeley and BibTeX
Zotero and BibTeX


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