Reference management software

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Not sure which tool to use for your citations?

Below is a quick guide of the most commonly used ones.

Before you decide, determine what exactly your needs are. 

Note: If you have chosen a citation tool and you’ve noticed that it doesn’t suit your needs, don’t worry many of these tools allow you to import from one tool to another.

 

Discipline

  • What types of materials will you be working with? African languages and linguistics? Oral literature? Economic data and development? Pamphlets and grey literature? Archival material? Interviews? Research notes? Images and visual culture?
  • What languages will you be working in and with?

 

Workflow

  • How do you gather references?
  • Which research databases will you be using?
  • Do you need to pull metadata from web resources?
  • Do you need to annotate PDFs?
  • Do you need to sync references across different devices?
  • Do you need your references to be accessible via Cloud?
  • With which word processing or typesetting program(s) do you work?

 

Operating system

  • Which operating system do you use (Linux, Mac, Windows)?
  • Do you need a desktop-based or a cloud-based program (or both)?
  • Do you need a mobile version?

 

Support

  • How good are the user-guides? How good are the video tutorials?
  • How good at technical trouble-shooting are you?
  • Do you need technical support from the company, through your institution or through the user community?

 

Budget

  • How much money are you willing/able to spend?
  • Does your institution have a license for one or more of these citation tools?

 

Collaboration

  • Are you working with research collaborators?
  • Will they have access to the citation tool where they are based (in Africa or Europe/North America for example)?
  • Is it available in their working language(s)?
  • Will you need to share documents?
  • Will you need to manage the bibliography together?

 

Reference management software: A quick guide

Citavi 

  1. Commercial licence (single licence ca. €120 per year)
  2. Works on Windows, also compatible with Mac through Windows simulation
  3. Desktop-based
  4. Professional technical support
  5. Multilingual (including English, German, French, Portuguese, Spanish)

 

EndNote 

  1. Free basic cloud-based version, commercial licence (single licence ca. €200 per year)
  2. Works with Windows and Mac
  3. Desktop and cloud-based
  4. Professional technical support
  5. English only

 

Jabref 

  1. Open source
  2. Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix
  3. Desktop based
  4. Support through user community
  5. English only
  6. Not suitable for collaboration
  7. LaTeX compatible

 

Mendeley 

  1. Free basic cloud-based version and monthly paid licenses depending on data volume
  2. Works with Windows, Mac, Linux
  3. Desktop and cloud-based
  4. Limited technical support, but support from user community forum available
  5. English only
  6. Large collaboration and research networking component

 

RefWorks 

  1. Commercial licence (single licence ca. €100 per year)
  2. Platform independent
  3. Cloud-based
  4. Professional technical support
  5. Multilingual (including English, German, French, Spanish)

 

 

Zotero 

  1. Free basic cloud-based version and yearly paid licenses depending on data volume
  2. Desktop and cloud-based
  3. Plug-in for Firefox. Works with Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix. Web-based connectors for Google Chrome, Safari and Opera.
  4. Support through user community
  5. Multilingual (including English, German, French, Portuguese, Spanish)

 

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