Citation management

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Importing citations into RefWorks
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See also Bibliographic citation software, Research for librarians - portal and Style manuals

Citation management (CM) refers to a range of methods of managing your research articles and citations. Some of the stages of citation management include retrieving, organizing and formatting bibliographic references from books, journal articles, digital learning objects and websites. There are a number of software tools available for this purpose, some of which are free to use - and others such as EndNote and ProCite which are fee-based and used on computer desktops.

At UBC Library, we use RefWorks and RefShare which are available on the web. These citation tools are essential in helping students, faculty and researchers in managing their bibliographic citations in scientific and biomedical research. Reference managers, as they are often called, help end-users to create databases of citations on specific topics by importing them from commercial databases. Freely-accessible search engines like Google Scholar now provide some bi-directional functionality to download citations into a citation management tool. Most citation managers are designed to organized citations into specific bibliographic formats. The software can be used to prepare manuscripts and bibliographies, or to organize reprints, newspaper clippings, books, audiovisual materials, maps or other materials. CM is an important part of the research process in health and medicine and in the general overall information management.

Some free web 2.0 tools

See also Social bookmarking sites

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

...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, like RefWorks, because any information input into these tools falls under the U.S. Patriot Act, and is 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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