What are Reference Managers?

Today I will be discussing about Reference Managers. They are also commonly referred to as Reference Management Softwares, Citation managers, biliography managers. These are web tools or standalone desktop applications used to collect, organize, cite, and share research either as an individual, a group or as a company. In the past, researchers had to manually search for articles, keep notes of the cited articles for references, manually generate and format bibliographies and collaborative research was difficult. With technological advancement and the advent of Reference Managers, all these aforementioned tasks can now be done more conveniently with ease, efficiency and it is time saving. Rapid expansion in the world of scientific research has been the major driving force behind the development of Reference Mangement Softwares. There are many Reference managers available and one is spoiled for choice. Factors that determine ones choice of a Reference Management Software are discussed in this post.

A Reference Manager that is a web tool has a web based application examples are Mendeley, Endnote, Zotero, etc while those that are standalone desktop applications have installers that can be used on various operating systems such as Linux, Windows and Mac. Most Reference Management Softwares work with popular word processing softwares such as Microsoft Word and LibreOffice, such that an appropriately formatted  reference list is automatically generated as an article is being written in the word processor, and using such references to generate a bibliography at the end of the article writeup. This helps to ensure that only cited sources are included in the reference/bibliographic list. Reference Managers also have the ability to import publication details from online bibliohraphic databases and also extract bibliographic metadata from published PDF journal articles. 

In addition to providing features to manage references, citation managers also have the ability to search for references from online libraries, circumventing the need to do this on a web browser. Some of the popular Reference Management Softwares available include:

  1. Mendeley
  2. Endnote
  3. Zotero
  4. Citavi
  5. JabRef
  6. Papers, etc

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