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The Ohio State University

Health Sciences Library

Citation Management Tools

What are Citation Management Tools?

When conducting literature-based research, you can sometimes end up with an unwieldy amount of references to keep track of. Citation management tools are programs that help you collect, store, and organize those references, making the process of researching and writing easier and more efficient. 

With citation management tools, you can:

  • Import and save a citation, or whole groups of citations, directly from research databases such as PubMed or Scopus, as well as from the OSU and OhioLINK catalogs. 
  • Organize and store the full text of your references.
  • Format citations and bibliographies for your scholarly writing.
  • Share your references and collaborate with others.

What Tools are Available?

There are a variety of citation managers to choose from. These are some of the more popular:

Available free to OSU users :

Available free to all users:


How Do I Choose?

With such a variety of programs available, you may be wondering how to select a tool to use. Features vary across the tools.

Use the chart below to help you determine which citation management tool best suits your needs:

  EndNote Basic New RefWorks* Zotero EndNote Desktop
Cost Free for OSU users Free for OSU users Free $94.95 at TechHub
Offline Access No No Yes Yes
Online Storage 50,000 references/2 GB attachments Unlimited 300MB free (unlimited desktop storage) Unlimited
Can I keep my account if I leave OSU? Yes, with some limited functionality No (you would need to export your content) Yes Yes
Download and store PDFs of full-text Manually Manually Automatically Automatically
Share with collaborators No Yes Yes Yes
OSU's Find It! button integrated Yes No No No
View and annotate attached PDFs No Yes Uses browser plugin for viewing; 3rd party options exist for annotations Yes
Mobile app $3.99; iPad only No No $3.99; iPad only
Write and cite plugin for Microsoft Word Yes Yes Yes Yes
Write and cite plugin for other word processing software Pages Google Docs LibreOffice/ OpenOffice/ NeoOffice Pages
Citation output styles Installs with 500; over 6000 available for download Over 4000 styles Installs with 12 styles; more available for download Over 7000 available for download

*See the RefWorks section of this guide to learn more about the different versions of RefWorks