Citation Management Systems

At our March ICOP meeting, Kai Smith gave a presentation on three citation management systems. While RefWorks is currently the only supported system, others are being used by students, faculty, and staff. Kai covered RefWorks and Zotero at this meeting, and briefly mentioned Mendeley.

Kai presented her Citation Research Mangers libguide which includes brief introductions of all three of these citation managers.  Each page includes a section on getting started with the manager, a quick video introduction to it, a short explanation about what it does, and also a link to workshops being offered by the Library.

RefWorks, the only officially campus-supported system, is easily installed and works with most of our databases, OneSearch, Findtext, etc. OIT pays for the subscription, which is likely more than $25K/year, according to Cheri Smith’s estimate. There are many training videos available to learn RefWorks, as well as workshops occasionally in the library. RefWorks also offers a lot of storage compared to the other citation managers. But RefWorks citations have been known to have been erroneous and need checking.

Kai uses Zotero, a free citation management system. She feels that it is very user friendly and easy to learn. Many first year students seem to be coming in with a basic knowledge of Zotero, and it is frequently supported at other institutions. She likes how up-to-date Zotero looks, as compared to RefWorks, and she thinks this might explain its appeal.

Mandy Havert is the resident expert on Mendeley. It has both a web and a client-based interface so that it can be used while connected to the internet and while working offline. Zotero also allows for this, and RefWorks with Write-N-Cite. Mandy also says that Mendeley has the ability to ingest files and create metadata and search for records so that the user can save time in keying resources. It can search existing, shared citations and help you discover more resources, and can host your documents with your citation metadata.

Kai told us that researchers have used a combination of all three systems successfully. Often institutions will support more than one citation management system because not all systems do exactly the same thing and can work together.

The rest of the presentation was spent with questions and answers.

For more information on Zotero, please see Kai’s libguide. Similar guides for RefWorks and Mendeley are in the works.