Comparing Citation Tools: what to consider

  • How do you gather references?
  • Do you have a bunch of PDFs on your computer that need organizing?
  • Do you need to sync references and PDFs across different devices?
  • What types of materials will you be working with, generally?
  • What databases will you be using?
  • Do you work in languages other than English?
—Technical support
  • How much patience and skill do you have for troubleshooting technical issues?
  • How much money are you willing/able to spend?
—Ease of sharing
  • Are you working with collaborators?
  • Do you want your research to lead you to other researchers with similar interests?
  • Is this tool something you picture yourself using beyond your time at Harvard?

Citation Tools Comparison Chart


   EndNote Mendeley RefWorks Zotero
Storage space Unlimited with EndNote X8

2 GB;

5 GB with FAS or CfA email

100 GB    300 MB
Cost Student pricing; free FAS download (Free 30-day trial options) Free    Free while Harvard maintains license Free - more storage for a price
Cloud/desktop Both    Both Cloud Cloud & browser plug-in
Technical support Professional technical support Good user community; limited direct technical support from Mendeley Professional technical support Good user community technical support
Strengths Very robust; good search and storage capability; direct export option within library databases; works very well with PubMed Large social component - can find other researchers in same field Works well with library databases; good for organizing & formatting paper citations; PDFs import automatically Good at pulling metadata from web resources; PDFs import automatically
After Harvard $200+ post-graduation if not already purchased as a student

Free (2 GB storage)

Alumni accounts available    Free
Other considerations  Steeper learning curve; many customization features Can use Mendeley with another tool; not as agile with EBSCO databases Strong collaboration features; slower processing time than other tools

Works best with Firefox, but Safari & Chrome versions available; open source

Word-processing options CWYW works with MS Word & OpenOffice; Format Paper works with Pages, Nissus, WordPad, others Works with MS Word and OpenOffice Write-n-Cite plug-in works with MS Word. Google Docs add-on available, but buggy.

Plug-ins that work with MS Word, OpenOffice, LibreOffice

Mobile options iPad app iPad, iPhone, & Android apps Working on making interface responsive on mobile devices Multiple options: see Zotero guide

Citation Tools Comparison Sessions at Harvard

In these 90 minute sessions we discuss the elements that popular research management and citation tools have in common and how they differ, as well as special features and potential pitfalls of each. Our sessions currently cover New RefWorks, EndNote, and Zotero.

Citation Tools Comparison Class
Thursday, 9/14, 2-3:30 PM
Lamont Library B30

  • Registration will be available here two weeks prior to the class.

This is the only comparison class planned for the fall 2017 semester.