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Citation Management Software

What is citation management software?

A reference manager supports researchers in performing three basic research steps: searching, storing, and writing [...]. It helps researchers find relevant literature, allows them to store papers and their bibliographic metadata in a personal database for later retrieval, and allows researchers to insert citations and references in a chosen citation style when writing a text.

Fenner, Martin, Kaja Scheliga, and Sönke Bartling. ‘Reference Management’. In Opening Science, edited by Sönke Bartling and Sascha Friesike, 125–37. Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2014.

Citation managers can save researchers a lot of time, as well as help to reduce mistakes and avoid plagiarism.

  • Collecting Research
    • Citation managers allow users to gather research materials from various sources. They can automatically save data from webpages, capture journal articles, and import PDFs directly into the library.
  • Organizing Information
    •  Researchers can organize their references using folders, tags, and notes. This helps in keeping track of important information and categorizing research materials for easier access.
  • Annotating Sources 
    • Citation managers provide tools for annotating and adding notes to documents within their library, which can be crucial for reviewing literature and making notes for future reference.
  • Citing Sources
    • The software integrates with word processors like Microsoft Word, allowing for the easy insertion of citations and bibliographies in various styles, which is essential for writing research papers.



Zotero is a popular free and open-source option among researchers that offers many features as well as extensions.


Using Zotero: A Sequenced Tutorial