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Reference Management

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Reference Management

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Reference management is the act of keeping track of the sources of information you have used or want to use for your work.

Doing this systematically in an organised way will help you make the most of your time, making it easier to get to your sources and to create your references and bibliographies more effectively and efficiently.

There are many online tools available to help with managing your references. These are especially useful for longer pieces of work (e.g. your dissertation) where you may want to use a larger number of references.

light bulbKeep a note of the sources you use as you use them.

light bulbLook at the reference management tools Teesside University supports and which reference style you should use.

light bulbLearn how to reference correctly so you can check the references are correct.

light bulbOrganise your references into folders in a manner that suits you - consider by keywords, themes etc.

light bulbBe careful using other referencing tools eg Word as these do not match Teesside University referencing styles.


student studying with laptop

Referencing management tools can help you:

Collect your references from different databases and websites and store them in one place.

Organise your references into different folders.

Add notes and save or link to the full-text of documents.

Identify and remove duplicate references - especially useful in large scale research such as systematic reviews.

Easily create reference lists / bibliographies and citations in the correct format.

Share your references with others..



You still need to have learnt why referencing is necessary and how to reference in the required style for your School.

student being thoughtful

There are many different tools available, so how do you know which one is the best for you?

Each tool has their own features, strengths and weaknesses. 

It may be helpful to consider the following:

Cost - are there any tools that you have access to free of charge as a member of Teesside University?

  • Teesside University provides every student with free access to RefWorks and to a basic version of Endnote Online.

Help -  are there any tools that the Library provides support for?

  • Teesside University librarians can help you learn how to use RefWorks - book a one-to-one tutorial with your Subject Librarians - Tutorials.

Accuracy of referencing style - does the tool provide the citation / referencing style you need to use?

  • Teesside University School referencing styles are available in RefWorks. (Remember to still check through your bibliography as some editing may be required).

What types of resources do you want to store / reference?

  • ‚Äčthe main tools can import book and journal article references but some are better with websites than others. You may still need to add things in manually.

In-text citation facility: can the tool help with creating in-text citations?

  • Most have have this facility to link from word -processing software to create in-text citations while you write up your work.

Check the comparison table (next tab) for further information.

If you would like to discuss the options available please email who will put you in contact with an appropriate person to advise you.

Below is a comparison table of 4 of the most popular products

Issue / Question RefWorks (Legacy) EndNote Mendeley Zotero
How much does it cost? Free to Teesside University members through a subscription purchased by Student and Library Services

Free basic online version available via the subscription to  the database Web of Science.

Desktop version - available for users who have a dedicated pc, otherwise would have to purchase individually

Free for standard product

Can pay for upgraded individual subscription

Free for standard product

Can pay for upgraded individual subscription

Where can I use it?

Is there an online / mobile / desktop version?

Can access full functionality online on any mobile device or PC

Online version and iPad app available

Desktop version needed for full functionality

App and online version available - limited functionality

Desktop version needed for full functionality

App and online version available - limited functionality

Desktop version needed for full functionality

Can I send references directly from online databases?


Most have a direct export function

Yes from many databases (Desktop version)

EndNote online allows direct export from EBSCO databases and Web of Science.

'Capture reference' bookmarklet tool allows some export but often this is incomplete.

You can save references as a file to import into EndNote


Check for more info

Yes from some. Some require import of a file

Does it offer my School citation style e.g. Harvard style as outlined in Cite them Right? Yes - Teesside University (Harvard Style) and other School referencing styles are available Yes (possibly not current version of Cite them Right available)

Yes but cannot guarantee accuracy (cannot amend the referencing style if inaccurate

Need to check if it offers CTR

Yes (cannot amend the referencing style if inaccurate)

Check if offers CTR

Is support / help available?

Student and Library Services offers training and support.


Good external support


Student and Library Services offers training and support for EndNote Desktop.

Good external support and documentation and webinars

External online help. Documentation and tutorials (limited for free version) Online documentation and help (can be quite technical)
What are the strengths?

Stable and reliable

Fully supported 

Most advanced free tool for Teesside University students

Desktop - one of the most advanced / sophisticated tools available

Online version - easy to use

Good for the social network component.

Good at pulling metadata from web resources automatically e.g. for pdfs

Good advanced free tool

Good at pulling metadata from web resources automatically e.g. for pdfs

What are the weaknesses? Importing directly from the web

Two interfaces (web and desktop) are very different

Can be complicated to learn

Desktop - restricted to 3 devices

Have to pay for regular upgrades

Two interfaces (web and desktop / standalone) are very different

App has very limited functionality

Two interfaces (web and desktop / standalone) are very different.

Online documentation can be complicated to understand

Good choice if you:

Want support to get started

Need to work on different pcs / devices

Manage a large number of references (Desktop version)

Working on a systematic review (Desktop version)

Want to work collaboratively and link into a research community

Happy to work autonomously

Would prefer not to use RefWorks