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Over the course of your research, you may come across hundreds of relevant articles, PDFs, websites, or books that you'd like to cite in your work. Keeping track of these items manually can be extraordinarily difficult and time-consuming. However, there are two types of software tools that can make the job much easier: citation generators and research management software.
Citation generators are simple apps that take bibliographic information and generate citations and references in a desired citation style (such as APA or MLA). However, they are typically "one-off" uses; you may find yourself generating the same citation repeatedly. The following citation generator apps are all free to use:
By comparison, research management software builds a permanent database of references, which can then be used to generate citations and references. Unlike citation generators, research management software will "remember" your library of references, so you don't have to re-find or re-generate the same references over and over. They also come with other useful features for research:
University Libraries supports three major reference management softwares: Zotero, EndNote, and Mendeley. Zotero and Mendeley are free to use, while students and faculty can purchase EndNote at a discounted rate. For help selecting a reference management software, contact Michael Hawkins (firstname.lastname@example.org), or check out the Zotero, EndNote, and Mendeley guide.
|Cost for Kent State students||Approximately $115 (purchase through kent.onthehub.com)||Free (with paid options to upgrade PDF storage space)||Free and open source (with paid subscription options to increase cloud storage space)|
|Cost for Kent State faculty||Approximately $220 (purchase through kent.onthehub.com)||Free (with paid options to upgrade PDF storage space)||Free and open source (with paid subscription options to increase cloud storage space)|
|Access||Desktop and web-based||Desktop client or web-based||Desktop client or web-based, plus optional browser plug-in|
|How does it work?||Import references exported from databases||Import references exported from databases; extracts metadata from PDFs||Import references exported from databases; adds a button to web browser; click to extract data from compatible web sites; can extract metadata from PDFs|
|Word processor functions?||Automatically create and insert citations and reference page||Automatically create and insert citations and reference page||Automatically create and insert citations and reference page|
|Annotate PDFs?||Yes||Yes||Yes, with “external” program (e.g., Adobe Reader)|
|Notes & tags||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Mobile use||App for iOS or EndNote Web||App for iOS/Android||Mobile site & app for iOS/Android|
|Citation styles||All major styles||All major styles; can customize styles||All major styles; can customize styles|
|Link to support||Support||FAQ & Community||Quick links & FAQ|