It appears that I’ve been living a very sheltered life as far as reference management software goes. My institution has a licence for Endnote so I’ve always just used that if I used software at all! As I’ve started researching, I’ve found loads of different reference management systems, and it seems like it’s impossible to pick between them.
I’ve made a list of the reference managers that look useful and I would like to try out. Find them at the bottom of the post.
I have some experience with Endnote and to be honest, that’s what I’m using right now because it’s what is used at my institution and I know many other people that use it and can help with any problems.
However, I have had a bit of a play around with Mendeley and I have been very impressed and in many regards, it seems better than Endnote. I will post up some demonstrations soon.
So what do I do, change or stick to what I know?
Now all this choice to me seems quite overwhelming and if you’re about to start a project or you’re in the middle of writing one then you probably need to start straight away without spending hours and hours trialling every single one.
Here are some tips to help you choose quickly and effectively:
1. Ask the people in your group what they use. If everyone in your department uses one reference manager, you’ll need a pretty good reason to choose something else so if time is short, it’s probably better to just go with the flow.
2. Have a look at the screenshots on the website of the individual reference manager. Don’t like what you see? Bin it and use something else. If there are no screen shots or no video tour, this is also a bad sign and may show things are getting a little out of date!
3. Type the name of the reference manager into YouTube. If there are loads of how-to videos this is a good sign, if there aren’t, forget about it.
4. Use Google – type the name of your reference software followed by review or forum and see what kind of results you get back.
5. Is it compatible with your operating system? This could be a huge help as not all the reference managers are compatible with all the operating systems so this could help you narrow down the field quite quickly.
6. Twitter – Does the site have a twitter page? If so try and spark up a conversation. Being active on Twitter is normally a sign that they are open and responsive to customer feedback.
All in all, these tips won’t take very long but will give you a good idea of one or two that you could try out, if not the exact reference manager you should use.
I will do my best to have a look through some of them and try to put some objective reviews up on the blog.
The Links above are all absolutely FREE!! They won’t cost you a penny.
There are a few reference managers out there that you do have to pay for…