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Drexel Library

Citation Management Tools

Comparison of software and online tools for managing research references.

What is a citation management tool?

Citation management tools are software or web/cloud-based applications that individuals or groups use to store, organize and utilize bibliographic citations.  At their core, these tools are a database of the researcher's selected citations; most provide the following functions:

  • Means of adding citations to the database, either manually or be importing citations from bibliographic databases or other sources.
  • Methods for organizing citations and/or searching within the database.
  • Integration with word processing or other document production software to incorporated properly formatted citations into scholarly writing.
  • Mechanisms for sharing citations with collaborators.

Comparison of Selected Citation Management Tools

EndNote Desktop

  • EndNote is produced by Clarivate Analytics; it is available to students, staff and faculty by site license through Drexel University IT at  Current version available is EndNote 20. Versions of EndNote are available for Windows, Mac and iPad (iOS) use.
  • Allows direct import from 500+ databases, online searching of 6000+ databases.
  • Citation library is stored locally, with unlimited reference and attachment storage; can be synced to EndNote Web (see below) for online availability and sharing of either a full library, or specific citation groups.
  • Retrieves full-text of journal articles via Libraries' linking utility; PDF, spreadsheet, graphic or document (word processor) files can be attached to citations. Attached PDFs can be annotated, highlighted and searched (full-text); citations created automatically from DOIs and other metadata.
  • Integrates with Microsoft Word up to 2016 version; 6000+ predefined bibliographic formatting styles; can create customized styles.

EndNote Web

  • EndNote Web/EndNote Basic is the web-based, free version of EndNote, also produced by Clarivate Analytics. An account can be set up directly at or established as part of the installation process for EndNote Desktop.
  • Allows direct import from, or online search of a limited number of databases.
  • Citation library is stored online, limited to 50,000 references, 2GB attachment storage space. Citation groups can be shared with other EndNote Web users.
  • Integrates with Microsoft Word up to 2016 version; 21 predefined bibliographic formatting styles.

F1000 Workspace

  • F1000 Workspace is a web-based bibliographic management and research collaboration platform, part of the Faculty of 1000 scholarly communications portal. 
  • Basic accounts (free) allow creation of up to 3 projects with unlimited references stored online.
  • Articles saved online can be annotated and highlighted.
  • Workspace supports 7,000+ citation styles, integrating with Microsoft Word and Google Docs.
  • Shared projects facilitate collaboration with co-authors.


  • Mendeley is a combined desk-top and web program, now owned by Elsevier Publishers.
  • Mendeley requires the user to store all basic citation data on its servers—storing copies of documents is at the user's discretion. Upon registration, Mendeley provides the user with 2 GB of free web storage space, which is upgradeable at a cost.  Since its 1.19 release in 2018 Mendeley encrypts its local database using a proprietary algorithm, making it difficult for users to export their data from the application.
  • Attached PDFs can be annotated, highlighted and searched (full-text); citations created automatically from DOIs and other metadata.
  • Mendeley supports creation of bibliographies and citations in Microsoft Word, OpenOffice and LibreOffice.
  • Social networking features include newsfeeds, commenting, public profiles; private groups allow collaborative tagging and annotation.
  • Guide to Mendeley Reference Manager (Elsevier)


  • Zotero is a free, open source developed by the Corporation for Digital Scholarship and the Roy Rozensweig Center for History and New Media. It combines desk-top and web-based applications.
  • Citation data and associated files can be stored locally, and can be synced to online account. Free online storage is limited to 300 MB.
  • PDFs, notes, images and other files can be attached to Zotero items; citations can be created from DOIs and other PDF metadata.
  • Zotero supports creation of bibliographies and citations in Word, LibreOffice and Google Docs, with support for 9,000 citation styles.
  • Accounts on Zotero's web application allow the creation of both public (open and closed) and private groups for collaboration.