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Referencing software

Cloud created by:

Gráinne Conole
24 November 2009

Keeping track of adademic references is always a nightmare. I have set up this cloud as a space for us to aggregate referencing software and share our experiences of using them.

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Comments via Twitter:

@lizith@gconole I rate EndNote - much quicker and easier to use in current version. I keep copy in Dropbox so can use from anywhere

@Marmara @gconole you can get web based zotero in your browser, refworks is what ou is working to to vle integration..

@Eingang @gconole If it had been around earlier, I'd have been tempted to try Zotero, the browser-based one with the Firefox extension.

@Eingang @gconole I use Bookends from Sonny Software. EndNote bloaty and they keep charging me to upgrade every year. The styles provided are quite basic in Bookends. I've had to tweak them a fair bit. The biblio format tags aren't very intuitive.However, overall, the software is quite Mac-like & does integrate with some word processors.

@julietteculver @gconole I looked a lot at different referencing software during H809. depends what you want really. disliked refworks and endnote. zotero quite nice, but depends on how you feel about browser integration. mendeley worth looking at too.

@krajagopal @gconole Try #mendeley - I've been working with it for the past couple of months, and am loving it!

@yishaym@julietteculver @gconole Zotero lacking critical features for me. Mendeley looks nice but haven't tried it much, I like the word plugin. 

@AJCann@julietteculver @gconole Can't use either Zotero or Mendeley at UoL, need web solution -

@yishaym@julietteculver @gconole my favourite is, its API means you can actually integrate it with cloudworks..

Gráinne Conole
11:42 on 24 November 2009 (Edited 11:46 on 24 November 2009)

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Alex Hardman
1:55pm 24 November 2009 (Edited 1:57pm 24 November 2009)

I've had a play with pretty much all of them in the links list. I've found that you can be failry software agnostic and easily import into and out of each one using RIS or BIBTEX output. Connotea didn't perform well at import/ export and was very pernickety (is that a word?).

I've noticed that Mendeley now has a sink with CiteULike option which seems to be the way forward.

Finally the community should be the primary concern and different platforms will have greater numbers of people from different subject areas.

Juliette Culver
2:09pm 24 November 2009

I spent some time looking at referencing software earlier this year, never having used any before. These were the things that I decided were important to me:

1) Finding a sensible way to manage PDFs and notes on papers - doesn't have to be the same software necessarily, but for me went hand in hand in lots of ways.

2) Being able to import citation data from google scholar and journal websites easily.

3) Being able to turn a set of references into the required style for an essay/paper. 

4) Being able to access the references on different computers via Dropbox sensibly (didn't solve this one satisfactorily)

5) If I don't have the PDF of a paper being able to search for it easily.

6) Reassurance of export options.

AJ Cann
2:30pm 24 November 2009 (Edited 11:27am 27 November 2009)

Undoubtedly the best way of handling pdfs is Papers:

I hate it - no social at all.

Gráinne Conole
2:35pm 24 November 2009

Someone else mentioned papers on twitter. Difficult to get the right balance. Endnote feels too bloated (someone else said that as well) and too old technology. Need something that works on laptop and syncs to web (and ideally iphone), where you can easily add refs in a range of formats, export in range of formats, share with others, take refs from shared collections etc. AND make a nice cup of tea whilst its at it! Have never sorted this out properly and just about to start writing a book so want to get it right this time.

Juliette Culver
3:36pm 24 November 2009

Zotero has an iphone app, but actually found in practice that I never ended up using it!

Gráinne Conole
4:47pm 24 November 2009

Been playing with both Mendeley and Zotero today. Admit I have a low IT-treshold so once couldnt figure some stuff out on Mendeley gave up.... Zotero I have found much easier and so far so good. We will see....

Yishay Mor
11:29pm 24 November 2009

I think this calls for an evaluation matrix. there are too many options, and too many parameters to do a flat comparison. 

some of my critiria are:

  • cost 
  • licence (open source / commercial)
  • web based / plugin / desktop app
  • API
  • import / export formats
  • office integration
  • social features
  • file storage
  • auto-harvesting of bibliographic collections / search engines

Owen Stephens
2:56pm 25 November 2009

I'm currently involved in an Open University project (TELSTAR - funded by JISC) where we are looking at integrating the RefWorks software with Moodle. We've built a new Moodle module which provides basic reference management functionality within Moodle. It's aimed at students and focusses on just basic functionality although there is no reason why others shouldn't use it. You can see a screencast of the functionality at

One of the interesting things we've found working on the project is that people often use tools like delicious for capturing things of interest as they go along, and then use referencing tools only later in their research/publication process.

People might be interested in this comparison chart of the features of various reference management solutions

FInally the project is organising a conference on Innovations in Reference Management on the 14th January - I hope to announce the program and registration form this week

Owen Stephens
9:35am 27 November 2009 (Edited 11:28am 27 November 2009)

Just an update to my last post, I can now announce the Innovations in Reference Management event, which is taking place on 14th January 2010, at Kents Hill in Milton Keynes. This free event will include talks looking at how reference management relates to real-time impact metrics, social bookmarking, digital preservation, the semantic web, and also showcasing some innovative use of reference management software at the Open University and the University of Lincoln.

You can visit the event page for more informationfull programme details, and to register.

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