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Reference management: Compare and choose a tool

This guide provide information about reference management tools

What are reference management tools?

Reference management programs (also known as citation managers or bibliographic management software) provide many useful features that can help you with your research such as:

  • storing and organising your references
  • generating citations and bibliographies in the style you prefer; and,
  • easily converting referencing styles to suit publication requirements.

Make a habit of storing all useful references to research literature as you come across them. This practice will save time later when you are writing.

As there are a number of different programs available it is important to choose a reference manager that adapts easily to your way of working and lets you establish an efficient workflow.

Useful questions

Cost - Is there a cost involved?

Desktop/Online- Will you want to access the tool both off and online?

Storage - How many references and attachments (such as PDFs) can you store?

Word Processor - Is the tool compatible with the word processor you use?

Reference Style - Does the tool format in your preferred style?

Advantages - Does the tool offer specific features that meet your needs?

Support - What level of support is available?

More questions:

  • What are other in my field using? Do you need to share references with your research group?
  • What kind of records can you import and organize (books, articles, patents, web pages)?
  • Are records in your library viewable by others?
  • Can you export records to other reference management tools?
  • Does it have a mobile site or app?

Reference management tools

Reference management tools help you store and organize references from different databases and create in-text-citations and bibliographies.


The University of Melbourne: 

University of California (UCLA)

See comparison of reference management software in Wikipedia.


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