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Conducting a Literature Review in Education: Managing Sources


What are citation organizers?

Citation organizers (or reference managers) store and organize citation information for a variety of research resources for easy representation in a variety of citation styles. These programs allow you to build reference library for many information sources, including journal articles, books and book chapters, audiovisual materials, websites, and more.

Common features:

  • Exist in a desktop and/or browser-based version
  • Support all major citation styles, with some specialized or custom styles
  • Allow import directly from databases and web
  • Build bibliographies with a single click
  • Offer “cite while you write” Word integration
  • May support PDF attaching, annotating
  • Allow you to tag and share libraries

Which ones are supported by the library?

Zotero: Easy to use, free, open-source program available for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari browsers. Works well with websites and library databases. You can download a plugin to use your library in Word. Cloud version syncs to desktop version. Additional file storage available for purchase (300 MG for free). Here is a brief tutorial created by USU. Or, view a very helpful guide created by a librarian at Georgia State University to get started.

EndNote Basic (Web): The free, web-based version of EndNote. Allows you to store 50,000 references in the cloud and provides 2 GB of PDF attachment storage. 21 citation styles are available, and you can download a plugin to use your library in Word ("Cite While You Write").

EndNote Desktop: Provides complete access to EndNote's features and will sync across multiple computers and to your EndNote Web account. "Cite While You Write" is included. Storage space is unlimited and there are over 6,000 available citation styles. The desktop version allows you to annotate PDFs directly within the program. You can also share your library and customize your own citation styles. There is a student discount, which makes EndNote about $120.

Mendeley: Share papers with other researchers and organize your citations in desktop or web-based versions. Citations can be imported using standard formats as well as using the Mendeley export option. Documents can be imported directly, or by using the Mendeley Web Importer, and can be shared and annotated with other researchers. A citation plugin is also available for Word and LibreOffice.

Which one should I use?

Program demo videos:

Comparison charts:


More questions?

Schedule a consultation with the USU librarians for Zotero, EndNote, and Mendeley, or view the following guides:

Can we help you?

Zotero librarians:

Photo of librarian

Kacy Lundstrom
Email Kacy

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Erin Davis
Email Erin

EndNote librarian:

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Rachel Wishkoski
Email Rachel

Mendeley librarian:

Photo of librarian

Alex Sundt
Email Alex