Online Reference Managers

Online Reference Managers

Saturday, January 16 – 4:40 – 5:45pm

A. Online Reference Managers – John Dupuis and Christina Pikas moderating, with Kevin Emamy, Jason Hoyt, Trevor Owens and Michael Habib (Scopus & 2collab) in the ‘hot seats’.

Description: Reference managers, sometimes called citation managers or bibliography managers, help you keep, organize, and re-use citation information. A few years ago, the options were limited to expensive proprietary desktop clients or BibTeX for people writing in LaTeX. Now we’ve got lots of choices, many that are online, support collaboration and information sharing, and that work with the authoring tools you use to write papers. In this session we’ll hear from representatives of some of these tools and we’ll talk about the features that make them useful. Together we will discuss some tips and tricks, best practices and maybe even get into upcoming features, wish lists and the future of citation management software.


Here is the Wikipedia comparison page:
Martin Fenner has also done some comparisons on his blog, Gobbledygook:

  • Bibliographic management meets web 2.0
  • What is the right reference manager for you
  • Reference manager overview

Valentin reviews a bunch on Knowledge|Beyond Words (via Garrett Eastman, thanks!)

Some points to think about:
Which tools do you use and why?

Which features are most needed, which are superfluous, which are nice to have?

What are your pain points?

How should these tools be integrated with full-text and abstract & citation databases?

Are there any concerns with preservation, ongoing access, and stability with free online services or, for that matter, paid online services?
— At the session we did talk about stability – there certainly are concerns. With Mendeley, your downloaded client will continue to run if the company goes away, Zotero is open source with a distributed group of developers so if their grant goes away it will still work. For others it seems that the best thing is to export your citations from time to time.

What’s the next step? Who’s going to take citation management to the next level?

Q: which ORM is the best for someone who needs to make the biggest jump, i.e., someone who has piles of paper but nothing digital at all? How to best jump from completely physical to completely digital? What is the one that is the easiest for such a big project – least amount of typing and clicking? BZ
A: I asked this in the session. My suggestion is to search yourself in Web of Science or Scopus (even Google Scholar) and then export all of the articles you’ve cited – as a start. A couple of these allow you to enter a list of DOIs and then it will look up the citation.
A: Mendeley allows you to add either a Paper title, DOI, PubMed ID, or arXiv ID and the software will find all the metadata without having to manually enter details for those printed hard copies. For papers already in digital PDF format, Mendeley will extract all metadata and full-text without the need for any manual data entry.

Q: The tools I currently use (Mendeley, Citeulike, Endnote) are heavily focused on peer-reviewed journal articles. (At least it seems like that.) That’s fine now, because most citations are to peer-reviewed journal articles. It seems, though, that we’ll want to cite blogs, web pages, and other things a lot more in the future. What do the tools need to do to make this less painful? For example, can Mendeley, Citeulike, or other services integrate with something like webcite to make things easier for the user? —Steve Koch
A: Zotero was the only one that really deals with just about anything including datasets, images, videos… Maybe ask Trevor for more info or check out their site
A: Mendeley allows any file type to be “linked” to a research paper. Indexing and full-text search of non-PDF files are planned in future editions.

If time permits, there has been some discussion (started by Cameron Neylon: ) on how to best automatically produce a machine and human readable and usable publication list or bibliography). Can/should/do reference managers support this? What would be really useful?

A: In response to this and the thread referred to, CUL now has JSON everywhere (already has RSS on any view, which would work too)…
A: Mendeley allows users to create RSS feeds of their research libraries as well as supporting export into XML format.

Compare/contrast the importance of a) formulating a bibliography b) keeping track of pdfs c) sharing

Q: Is there a place for full blown data inside research management tools?
a: Looks like yes for Zotero
A: Mendeley: Not at the moment, although any file type can be linked to a PDF

Q: What about languages? Which tools are localized in what languages? How is each tool used globally?

A: Zotero is in 40 languages – not sure what of the other tools are localized in other languages.
A: CUL used to be localized in about 6 languages, including Chinese and Russian. We took a decision to stop this a while ago as the functionality of the website changed too fast.
A: Mendeley Desktop is in English only for the moment. However, it can extract and search the full-text of PDFs in any language.

Q: Subscribing to the RSS feeds of Journal Table of Contents (TOC) is a popular way of keeping track with the literature. How can this be integrated with my reference manager? CiteULike provides RSS feeds to many journals (but not some of the journals I’m most interested in), so that is a start. But is there a more general approach to the problem?

A: In RefWorks, you can subscribe to RSS feeds from journals and then select entries off to import. I don’t know of any other service that does that.

A: has 13,000 or so. You can post (import) them as per any bookmark. If the questioner put’s a request for the specific journal they want on our forums, we’ll look into adding it.

A: Currently, many Zotero users subscribe to those RSS feeds in a RSS reader and then as they browse them online they can use Zotero’s one click import function to import the references into their local collection. In the near future Zotero will have some cool RSS functions.