As the size of your papers lengthen — from term papers to thesis to dissertation — you’ll begin to recognize the value of a citation management tool. Good citation managers allow you to easily capture a variety of citation sources (books, articles, interviews, videos, newspaper articles), and then readily incorporate them into a Word document, ultimately producing a bibliography in any one of a variety of formats (MLA, Chicago, APA, Harvard, etc.) In short, they take the drudgery out of citation collection and bibliography production so you can better focus on the content of your research. A good citation manager will also facilitate group collaboration and cloud-based storage of references and accompanying PDFs.
There are four commonly used academic citation managers on the UC Berkeley campus: EndNote, RefWorks, Zotero, and Mendeley. EndNote, the elder statesman of the group, has been widely used by science faculty for over 25 years, but costs about $100 and the web-based interface leaves quite a bit to be desired. UC Berkeley pays for a subscription to RefWorks so it’s free for students and faculty to use. It’s web-based and can’t be used if you don’t have an internet connection and to this reviewer’s eye the interface is a bit cludgy.
Zotero is a free, open source citation manager that’s been around nearly 10 years and is going strong. Design for new media research, it recognizes a wide variety of citation sources (books and articles as well as maps, computer programs, e-mail, patents, podcasts, theses, reports) and imports citations with a single click from Safari, Chrome and Firefox browsers. It works from your device or the cloud and allows for easy group collaboration.
Mendeley is the newcomer to the citation management crowd. Recently purchased by the Elsevier Corporation, it is cloud-based, allows for easily import of citations and annotation of PDFs and is currently free. It doesn’t recognize new media sources such as interviews, forum posts, and TV broadcasts as Zotero does. It is, however, gaining in popularity among scientists.
If you haven’t already guessed, Zotero, is my favorite — especially for students in the arts and humanities and social sciences. Mendeley is a close contender, but I have concerns that it won’t be free forever. You can find an excellent guide on setting up and using Zotero at http://guides.lib.berkeley.edu/c.php?g=4472&p=15929. The most important thing is to not delay; begin using a citation manager today. You won’t believe the difference it will make in your individual and collaborative research projects.
If you’d like to set up a Zotero training session, please get at least 5 colleagues together and we’ll find an open time on my calendar for a 1 hour training. deifler [@] berkeley.edu.
by David Eifler, Environmental Design Library
Contact me at deifler [at] berkeley.edu