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Research Byte: Citation management

By August 26, 2019September 16th, 2023No Comments

By Sarah Jane Brown

Photo of "bibliography" typed repeatedly on paper.Citation managers are helpful software tools that make organizing, storing, and citing references easier. This Research Byte is intended to introduce some common features of citation managers and help you get started.

Available citation managers, such as Mendeley, EndNote, and Zotero, automate processes to allow you to keep your literature organized and cite it in your writing with minimal effort. Most offer PDF storage and management tools, like highlighting and annotation, which help you keep important notes for your references in one place.

A new feature of Zotero also helps you avoid citing retracted publications. Zotero uses data from Retraction Watch to notify you when an item in your library has been retracted by the publisher.

What you need to know

Learning to use citation managers may seem like a significant investment of your time, but it pays off when you can easily find references you have saved and automatically cite those references while writing. Most citation managers allow you to:

  • Drag and drop PDFs from your computer into the citation manager and instantly capture citation information. 
  • Read, highlight, and annotate PDFs right within in the citation manager.
  • Import citations you find in literature searches right from your browser.
  • Format bibliographies and in-text citations automatically in Word or other word processors.
  • Share your libraries and collaborate on publications with colleagues.

Getting started

Whether you are just getting started or you are looking to learn advanced features, the University of Minnesota Libraries can help you integrate citation management tools into your research workflow.


About the author

Photo of Sarah Jane Brown

Sarah Jane Brown

Sarah Jane Brown, MSc, is the Liaison Librarian to the College of Pharmacy and Medical School, Duluth campus. She is a member of the Citation Manager Experts group at the University of Minnesota Libraries, which aims to help students, faculty, and staff from across disciplines integrate citation manager software into their research workflow.

She welcomes you to contact her at

Erinn Aspinall

Author Erinn Aspinall

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