Whether you’re working on a research project, a systematic review, or just trying to keep your must-read articles organized, citation managers such as Zotero, Endnote, Endnote Web, Refworks, and Mendeley can help.
All citation managers share similar functions. They import article citations from databases or websites, organize and store citations and full-text articles, allow for annotation and sharing, and can export references for a bibliography in a variety of citation styles. Important features to consider in selecting the right citation manager for your needs are whether it is free or fee-based, whether it is desktop- or web-based, and its storage capacity.
While all features should be considered when selecting a citation manager, the ability to collaborate should also be near the top of the list. Free web-based managers such as Zotero and Mendeley allow multiple users using different devices to access article citations in a single digital library. This feature is essential when working on systematic reviews and research projects with colleagues, or even sharing an article in a journal club setting. Zotero and Mendeley even incorporate a social media tool, allowing a user to search for and find other researchers or research groups working on similar topics. Collaborative groups or digital libraries may be open to allow for broad collaboration, or easily kept private according to your project’s needs.
Please feel free to contact the College Library to discuss which citation manager is best suited to your needs and how to integrate this valuable tool into your research.
This article is the opinion of the Library of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC and has not been peer reviewed by the BCMJ Editorial Board.