Why use Reference Management Software?
- to help you collect references easily, whether one by one or in batches, by clicking a button or importing a file, from an existing database, online websites or publishers’ websites,
- to help you manage your references, classify them, annotate them, tag them, export them,
- to help you cite a reference within a text, whether with a standard word processing system, or from LaTeX, and generate a bibliography using a particular presentation style (format, either chosen or required by a journal).
How to choose?
- Some RMS packages can be used to produce collaborative bibliographies or collections, so if you need this facility you are advised to find out about the habits of your community, your laboratory or the members of your research project and choose the same application. Similarly, the fact that the application is also a kind of social media network may be relevant if you want to display your biography to identify new collaborators.
- Being able to annotate PDFs and even share your notes with colleagues is a function that is generally very helpful. Some applications include this function directly, others require you to use a third party PDF reader. Zotero is one of these, also offering you the possibility of using the ZotFile application (which further enables you to use Zotero on a mobile phone).
- Whether an application is free of charge, open source or charges for use may also be a criterion, as may be the limits on file storage space (not to be confused with limits on the number of references possible). To get round the problem if you have a large library of PDFs, you need to check whether the application allows you to outsource storage via another service such as Google Drive, DropBox or Box. For Mendeley, all you have to do is indicate a folder in the cloud as a “watched folder”; for Zotero, you will have to set up a WebDav server.
- Your usual computer’s operating system and whether or not you use LaTeX are also two key criteria in your choice, along with compatibility with your favorite browser, or whether the application runs entirely on the web.
- These days, having an application that runs on tablets and smartphones is increasingly important, although the main thing here is to be able to read and annotate documents rather than cite them in a text.
- It may also be useful to know that the Scholarly Communication Unit of the Documentation Department can organize training on Zotero in your lab. Nonetheless, if you want to opt for a different application, or migrate from one tool to another, The Lab can help you.
Migrating from one application to another
The cloud, synchronizing your data
Teach Yourself - Information
Zotero has a very active community of users and trainers who share a great deal of information and help develop the tool.
Dedicated tools for integration into LaTeX documents