Reference Managers

For a project as expansive as a dissertation, consider using software to manage your references. A reference manager can organize bibliographic information for you, and automate many of the mechanical tasks involved in generating references and citations. This choice will not only save time, but also your sanity! Whichever reference manager you choose, take some time to learn how it works. You may initially have a learning curve, but it can prevent frustration in the long run.

Reference managers also give you the flexibility to generate new bibliographies or reference lists from sources with which you have previously worked without starting from scratch. As a dissertation prepares you for continued research and publication after you complete your degree, you will likely cite many of the same sources over and over again. Depending on where you publish, you may need to change your citations’ formatting from one documentation system to another. A reference manager can complete these tasks for you.

As a word of warning, reference managers are not a substitute for learning whichever documentation system your discipline uses. These managers mean that you do not have to generate each citation by hand, but occasionally they do get the formatting wrong. You still have to be able to identify errors and know how to fix them.

Below are three commonly used reference managers:

This software is free and open-source. It comes with a variety of plug-ins for various browsers to help you “grab” citation information from different sites, and insert citations into Microsoft Word. You can organize those resources into different collections that make sense to you, and format citations and bibliographies according to the style you choose. You can also sync everything between your online account and any computers you use that have Zotero installed in them.

To download Zotero for free, go to Zotero’s main webpage.
For an overview of Zotero, take a look at their Quick Start Guide.
For an orientation to Zotero, watch our video tutorial.

This reference manager was designed specifically for scientific research. It is also free. It has several browser extensions that allow you to import journal articles and citation information that you find online. In addition to generating reference lists and citations, it allows you to annotate PDFs imported to the program, while keeping your original PDF clean (saved in another folder). Mendeley also has a lot of social networking features, which allows you to collaborate or engage with other scientists and researchers.

To download Mendeley for free, go to Mendeley’s main webpage.
For an orientation to Mendeley, go to Mendeley’s Youtube list for tutorials.

EndNote allows you to easily collect references from electronic and traditional sources, organize your references for your research topics and papers, and create a formatted bibliography for your paper or cite references while you write. Not all versions of this software are free; however, APU has an institutional subscription to EndNote, so as long as you are a student, you can use it at no additional charge.

Visit EndNote’s product details page for more information on this reference manager, and the different versions available.

To get more information and download the EndNote software for free, visit this link (APU NetID and password required).

​We recommend these YouTube videos for guidance on getting started and all that EndNote can do for you and your writing process:

The following tutorials troubleshoot EndNote’s Cite While You Write (CWYW) feature for Microsoft Word. The links below are the Mac tutorials; see the EndNote Training YouTube playlist for their Windows counterparts:

Be sure to look at this LibGuide for instructions specific to APU: