Reference manager

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A citation or bibliographic citation is a reference to a book, article, web page, or other published item with sufficient details to uniquely identify the item. Unpublished writings or speech, such as personal communications, are also sometimes cited. Citations are provided in scholarly works, bibliographies and indexes

Bibliographic management and citation formatting are central to this.

See also:

  • the citation entry (for formats)
  • the citation index article that discusses systems that do both social reference management and citation search etc.
  • the literature review entry that may help you dealing with references :)

Formats and Tools

Popular data formats

  • Comes with free tools, well integrated with LaTex


 keywords =     "education, AI",
 author = 	 "Wenger, E.",
 title = 	 "Artificial Intelligence and Tutoring Systems",
 publisher = 	 "Morgan Kaufmann",
 year = 	 1987,
 address =	 "Los Altos, CA 94022"
  • Most popular commercial format (binary)
  • Uses symbolic *.ris format
  • Next popular commercial format

There are more formats ...

Individual Reference/Bibliography managers

A reference manager is a tool to manage references.

Software for your PC (local computer)
  • CiteProc. This may become part of Open Office.
  • Bibliographix (Small version is free, combines reference management, information retrieval and Idea Manager in a single application.
  • Zotero, a free tool, integrated with your browsers and most word processors.
  • Endnotes, Reference Manager (commercial). As of sept. 2008 I suggest not using this software anymore, since they aggressively attack really useful public domaine software. Read more in GMU sued for Zotero - Daniel K. Schneider 16:14, 1 October 2008 (UTC).
  • Word 2007 also has built-in reference manager (not tested).
Web-based software
  • Most specialized vendors of academic digital publications allow to bookmark and export references in various formats. Also, you can tell google.scholar's preferences to add an export button.

Social reference managers

Such social software systems allow users to share references.

  • Mendeley Desktop indexes and organizes PDF documents and research papers into your own personal digital bibliography. It gathers document details from your PDFs allowing you to effortlessly search, organize and cite. It also looks up PubMed, CrossRef, DOIs and other related document details automatically. Can import texts from various sources like Google Scholar, ACM, IEEE, import bibliographies from BibTex, RIS, and EndNote XML, interface with Zotero and CiteULike and export bibliographies to BibTex. Integrated with Word and OpenOffice.
  • Connotea is probably the most popular system. “Saving references in Conntoea is quick and easy. You do it by saving a link to a web page for the reference, whether that be the PubMed entry, the publisher's PDF, or even an Amazon product page for a book. Connotea will, wherever possible, recognise the reference and automatically add in the bibliographic information for you. In Connotea you assign keywords (or 'tags') to your references. These can be anything you like, and you can use as many as you like, so there's no more need to navigate complicated hierarchies of folders and categories. Connotea shows you all the tags you've ever used, so it's easy to get back to a reference once you've saved it.” ([1])
  • WIKINDX is a free bibliographic and quotations/notes management and article authoring system designed either for single use (on a variety of operating sytems) or multi-user collaborative use across the internet. As opposed to Connotea, you likely want to install your own server for your organization (PHP/MySQL-based)
  • refBASE. Web-based, platform-independent, multi-user interface for managing scientific literature & citations.
  • RefWorks (Wikipedia page) is a commercial service
  • LibraryThing free for 200 books. Collaborative features, Organizing with tagging, groups. Nice tool !

The advantage of using a social reference manager is that you can share tagged references. This will allow participants to follup new leads. And of course, you always can export.

Bibliographic databases

(there are many !)


  • Pubpsych (Psychology and related fields). Managed by Leibniz Institute for Psychology Information (ZPID. Includes items from other free databases.

Citation indexes

A citation index is an index of citations between publications, allowing the user to easily establish which documents cite which other documents.

See the Citation index article which will explain this technology. Note: Maybe I should merge these two articles - Daniel K. Schneider 21:24, 6 June 2007 (MEST).

The most well know tools is citeulike. It help academics to share, store, and organise the academic papers they are reading. Automatically extracts citation details.

Other tools

  • WebCite is an archiving system for webreferences (cited webpages and websites), which can be used by authors, editors, and publishers of scholarly papers and books, to ensure that cited webmaterial will remain available to readers in the future.
  • Some portalware may include reference management tools (but this needs checking). Certainly, one could abuse a links manager, but it's not the same.

Educational use

  • Support for reference gathering activities in project-oriented teaching
  • (Teacher) preparation of reading lists
  • Scaffolding of thesis work (i.e. profit from the collective intelligence within recent social software systems like citation indexes)


Citation Format overviews
APA Format

See citation


  • Tony Hammond, Timo Hannay, Ben Lund, and Joanna Scott (2005). Social Bookmarking Tools (I) - A General Review, D-Lib Magazine, April 2005, Volume 11 Number 4. HTML