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Citing information: Use a reference manager

Use a reference manager

Manually collecting the information you need to create correct references can be a lot of work. There are tools available, called reference managers, to make this easier. Examples of reference managers are RefWorks, EndNote, Zotero and Mendeley. These tools save the bibliographical data you need to create references; title, author name(s), publication year, etc..

These programs are useful for, among others:

  • Pulling references automatically
    You can add reference manually to a reference manager, but also pull them directly (often in bulk) from many academic databases with a few easy clicks.
  • Managing of references
    With a reference manager you keep the overview over the literature you've found. You can organize the titles in folders, add keywords and other information. In some programs you can also add PDF-files to the references, so you have the literature near at hand as well.
  • Adding references and creating a bibliography
    Reference managers help you make literature lists in an output style (like APA or Chicago) and often help make citations in a text. The reference manager automatically applies the rules of the different styles. The final results are generally more consistent than when creating the citations manually. When there is a need to change the style (to comply with a publisher's style requirements), the reference manager allows you to do this easily. A manual conversion would require a considerable time investment.

Choosing a reference manager depends on personal preferences and needs, for example:

  • are you willing to pay for the software?
  • do you have a preferred browser?
  • do you use Microsoft Word or another program when you write?
  • do you have installation rights for your computer?
  • do you already have a lot of PDF-files of articles?
  • do you want to collaborate with other students?

Wikipedia offers an extensive overview of reference manager software.

The Erasmus University Rotterdam has a license for the online reference manager ProQuest RefWorks - students and researchers of the EUR can use RefWorks for free (click here to read how to make an account). The examples in the modules in the Citing Information LibGuide are based on ProQuest RefWorks.

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