Reference management software applications can help to organise, store and retrieve citations of books, articles, web sites and reports.
You may choose to use reference management software for your assessment, literature review or thesis.
Citations can be added manually or directly exported from MultiSearch, databases, or websites such as Google Scholar or Amazon.
PDFs can be dragged and dropped into the application.
Many reference management apps work with word-processing software to insert properly formatted citations into a paper and create a bibliography.
Saves you time: you can import your sources from databases, library catalogues and websites quickly and easily.
Keeps you organised: all your references are in one place.
Improves your accuracy: does in-text citations which means you can use it with your word processor to insert your references directly into your assignment and generate a reference list in many referencing styles, such as APA. Warning: Double check your references against the APA Guide.
What it won't do:
It will not correct errors or omissions that were in the database from which you retrieved references.
Some software is not as good as others at recognising websites, PDF reports or other sources where the metadata is incomplete. For example, Mendeley is not as good at Zotero at picking up metadata for reports downloaded from a website. You may have to add in some data. It is up to you to check that your citation is correct in the program you are using. What you put in is what you will get out.
Citation tools help you to quickly create citations for one source at a time.
They are usually free and available online.
They do not to store citations or link to word-processing software.
If you don't want to learn how to use reference management software but want to create a reference list quickly, check out our guide to citation tools.
There is no one program that currently works best to support everyone's needs.
Online citation tools are helpful when you are in a rush and have a small number of sources to manage.
Reference management software is more time consuming but extremely useful for handling more complex citations and long essays or theses and for its word processing compatibility.