Zotero vs. Mendeley

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Zotero, Mendeley & Endnote are the top three tools ...RefWorks is 4th
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Last Update

  • Updated.jpg This entry is out of date, and will not be updated, July 2017


See these files of information:


  • Zotero works with Chrome as a standalone software (Zotero desktop, let's say) http://www.zotero.org/download/
  • Zotero can find duplicated items
  • Zotero can extract metadata from PDFs; create personal bybliographic styles in Mendeley (and easier than with Zotero)

General comments

  • Zotero seems to have gained the early traction in academic libraries because it was easy to use "user-friendly" and intuitive; introductory videos helped users to learn the basics quickly
  • However, in science especially, Mendeley has started to take hold

Pros and cons of Zotero

  • Zotero is completely open source; documentation at Zotero.org can be used for teaching; provides community to support software
  • Zotero is recommended by institutions such as MIT, Stanford and Yale; best reference management tool at CiteFest
  • Because it is open and extensible, it is a resource for students; provides a way to contribute to open-source communities
  • Zotero project was developed by scholars with a commitment to openness; Zotero makes no claim of ownership or control over software
  • UMich’s School of Information got funding to launch an information literacy game, Bibliobouts, built around Zotero
  • Licensed platforms (RefWorks, EndNote) provide users with similar services but license ends as students graduate
  • Zotero is committed to data portability / interoperability through open standards; vendors have vested interest in locking users into proprietary formats & licenses
  • Zotero makes it easy to migrate data to and from other tools
  • Some citation errors are said to occur during importing without recommended solutions
  • Currently only for use as a Firefox extension; online version is supposedly coming
  • Doesn't work in Internet Explorer or Google Chrome
  • Doesn't handle large collections very well; program may stall when attempting a large sync
  • As with any citation manager, you must check records to ensure accurate importing
  • No way to find duplicate records; must be deleted manually - a time-consuming problem
  • Cannot import items from written references lists; desired citations must be individually retrieved

Pros and cons of Mendeley

  • Store collections and their citations in a web/cloud so you can access them anytime (but remember the last and first thing you do when opening up Mendeley is to synchronize with the web)
  • Importing is excellent; Mendeley grabs citation information from pdfs via Desktop client and citation information from webpages via browser bookmarklet
  • Online pdf viewer and other cool annotation features make managing papers simpler; citations can be exported to EndNote and Zotero
  • You cannot create your own bibliographic style in Mendeley
  • Cite while you write (requires MSWord plugin); you need both Mendeley web and Mendeley desktop to be able to cite while you write
  • The sharing and collaboration features on Mendeley seem to be better than Zotero
    • there are notable differences in development philosophies
    • Zotero is ‘open source’ (developers share code, so many people can contribute) whereas Mendeley contains some proprietary code
  • Mendeley is still in beta so developers are constantly improving it
  • Zotero and Mendeley are freely-available for Windows, Mac and Linux and work with MSWord
  • Mendeley is a standalone application but not open source; getting references into it is not as direct as with Zotero
    • import references from PubMed and related databases
    • attach pdfs to record
    • share collections with individuals or create public collections
    • options for the above (so that you take care of copyright issues)
    • interface is good and user-friendly
    • create tags of choice
    • in beta and used online or via desktop!
  • extracts citations and bibliographic data: Mendeley Desktop extracts bibliographic data, keywords, and cited references from PDFs and turns them into searchable full-text database; when you import several citations, you need to individually select the citation for authorization
  • might be good for nomads like residents – use from anywhere; felt I had to disable security features on my computer to get it to work
  • idea of adding popularity layer over top - by keeping track of articles downloaded is intriguing
  • not compatible with OvidSP and EBSCO CINAHL; e.g., cannot directly export into Mendeley from some library-curated databases
  • it is not possible to create a second level of collection (or sub-collection) on Mendeley web


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