Citation management

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Importing citations into RefWorks
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Last Update

  • Updated.jpg 29 April 2016


See also Bibliographic citation software | Mendeley | Research Portal for Academic Librarians | RefWorks | Style manuals for writers & editors | Zotero

Citation management (see also Bibliographic citation software) refers to methods (and software) that can be used to manage citations and research articles. The main components of citation management are retrieval, organization and formatting of references (ie., books, journal articles, digital learning objects and websites). Similarly, inputting, managing and outputting citations (as bibliographies or footnotes) are three activities common to most citation management tools. A few tools accomplish citation management, some of which are free and others such as EndNote and ProCite are fee-based. A core skill in citation management is formatting references according to appropriate style sheets. Most citation managers are designed to organized citations into specific bibliographic formats. As an important part of overall information management, citation management software is used to prepare manuscripts, organize reprints, newspaper clippings, books, audiovisual materials, maps and other materials. RefWorks is widely-used in Canadian and American universities by faculty, staff and students but so are digital-age tools such as Mendeley and Zotero. One of the benefits of using RefWorks is the librarian support you can get from your local university library. Other reference managers may be used but they may not be supported. Academic librarians who promote and provide technical support for citation management programs should be aware of the strengths and potential problems that users will face in using these tools. Keep in mind that Google scholar provides bi-directional functionality for downloading citations into citation management tools but does not accommodate bulk downloads.

Some free web 2.0 tools

Most of these tools are free to use on the web, unless you require a premium version.

...web-based journal article app designed for researchers in bioinformatics, engineering, information management; combines citation management, RSS readers & document ordering
...a reference management and knowledge organization service used in the German-speaking world (although there is an English version). It helps to find, structure and document resources within a single interface. WorldCat is another online catalogue Citavi users can search, cite and make annotations to help in research and writing process


Citation management (CM) is the key to keeping track of your research activities and for creating lists of references for peer-reviewed papers. CM is essential for customization of your bibliographies if you submit papers to a number of different scholarly journals. In academic institutions, RefWorks is very popular but other free tools such as Zotero and Mendeley are increasingly used.

RefWorks is relatively simple to use, and researchers can use an aspect of the software called RefShare. Like other web-based reference tools, RefWorks lets you gather, store, manage, and share references or citations, and generate bibliographies and formatted papers. References are stored online, and are easily accessible from any web-connected computer. Citation management tools may also be useful in Citation analysis studies or any research where managing large numbers of references is a central activity.

Canadian context

Some health librarians have expressed concerns about using American web-hosted citation management software, such as RefWorks and EndNote Web, because any information stored in these tools falls under the US Patriot Act, and is therefore subject to scrutiny by authorities. However, this possible invasion of privacy is not deemed severe enough not to use the software.


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