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Reference Management Software

In the summer of 2000, I purchased software to help me keep track of all the articles, books, etc. that I have read or plan to read (especially those items relating to the work I do as a librarian). Such software usually allows you to use its interface (which is increasingly Z39.50 compliant) to:

  • search databases (online library catalogs and proprietary databases such as those provided on Wilson Web or by Silver Platter)
  • import citations into a database file the software creates on your computer
  • organize your database of citations from a controlled vocabulary you create
  • export selected citations and bibliographies into word processing documents in standard formats (such as MLA, APA, etc.) or user-defined ones.

You can also type your citations into the database, as well. These software programs are referred to by a number of phrases: reference management, bibliographic management, bibliography processors, personal bibliography software, bibliography formatting software, etc. While researching which product to buy, I assembled the following list of the leading publishers of reference management software as well as evaluations of those products that people have posted on the web:


Reviews, Evaluations, and Guides
The "Electronic Research" section of CHORUS, a website created by the UC-Berkeley College Writing Programs, offers substantial reviews and a helpful chart that allows you to pick which two (of five offered) packages you want to see a side-by-side comparison of.

Nature Software Reviews
Published in July 1999, this excellent collection of reviews of the leading products is only available on the website of Nature.

Bibliographic Software
Created by Steve Osborne, a graduate student at the School of Library and Information Science, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, this very thorough page offers links to every package out there as well as to product-specific listservs, reviews, and other useful info.

Personal Bibliographic Managers
The website of Biblio-Tech Review offers this review of Endnote, ProCite, and Reference Manager. Includes an excellent overview of typical functions of reference management software and what the limitations are for such programs.

CTICH Brief Guide to Bibliographical Software

Overview of Personal Bibliographic Software

Bibliography Formatting Software: An Evaluation Template
This website from Francesco Dell'Orso of the University of Perugia in Italy provides a detailed and technical comparison of the three ISI ResearchSoft programs (Endnote, ProCite, Reference Manager) and Papyrus.

Evaluation of Reference Management Software on Windows 3.1
Posted on the web by Maggie Shapland, University of Bristol, in 1998, this site reviews examines Papyrus ProCite, Reference Manager, Idealist, Endnote, GetARef, and Citation 7.

Popular Tools

Reference Management Software

Essential Reference Resources

E-mail your comments or suggestions to Stephen Francoeur

Last updated: December 26, 2001