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Systematic Reviews: Managing References

A Synthesis and Evaluation of existing evidence

Introduction to Managing References

Managing references is a crucial aspect of academic and research endeavors, ensuring that scholars can effectively organize, cite, and retrieve sources for their work. Whether you're writing a research paper, thesis, or conducting a systematic review, keeping track of your references is essential for maintaining scholarly integrity and facilitating the replication of your research.

References serve several purposes:

  1. Credibility: They lend credibility to your work by demonstrating that your ideas are grounded in existing scholarship.
  2. Acknowledgment: They acknowledge the contributions of other researchers and scholars whose work has influenced yours.
  3. Reproducibility: They enable others to replicate and build upon your research by providing access to the sources you've consulted.
  4. Avoiding Plagiarism: Properly citing your sources helps you avoid plagiarism, ensuring that you give credit where it's due.

Selecting the right reference management tool depends on several factors, including:

  1. Compatibility: Ensure that the tool is compatible with your operating system (Windows, macOS, Linux) and integrates seamlessly with your word processor (e.g., Microsoft Word, LaTeX).
  2. Features: Consider the features offered by the tool, such as citation style support, PDF annotation, collaboration capabilities, and cloud synchronization.
  3. Usability: Choose a tool with an intuitive interface that suits your workflow preferences and is easy to learn and use.
  4. Integration: Look for integration with academic databases, libraries, and online resources to streamline the process of importing references.
  5. Accessibility: Check if the tool offers mobile apps or web-based access, allowing you to manage your references across different devices.
  6. Cost: Evaluate the cost of the tool, considering both upfront fees and ongoing subscription or licensing costs. Many tools offer free versions with limited features or trial periods for evaluation.


  1. Zotero: Zotero is a free, open-source reference management software that helps users collect, organize, cite, and share research sources. It offers browser extensions to easily save references from the web, supports various citation styles, and allows collaboration among researchers.

  2. Mendeley: Mendeley is a reference manager and academic social network that enables users to organize and annotate research papers, collaborate with colleagues, and discover new research. It offers desktop and web-based versions, as well as mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.

  3. EndNote: EndNote is a commercial reference management software developed by Clarivate Analytics. It allows users to search online bibliographic databases, organize references, and create bibliographies in various citation styles. EndNote offers integration with Microsoft Word and other word processors.

  4. RefWorks: RefWorks is a web-based reference management tool provided by ProQuest. It offers features for collecting, organizing, and sharing references, as well as generating bibliographies in different citation styles. RefWorks is commonly used in academic institutions and libraries.

  5. BibTeX: BibTeX is a reference management tool commonly used with LaTeX documents. It uses plain text files to store references and citation information, which are then formatted according to a specified bibliography style. BibTeX is particularly popular in fields such as mathematics, computer science, and physics.

Other usefull Tools

  1. Papers: A reference management software by ReadCube for organizing, annotating, and citing academic papers, with PDF annotation and synchronization across devices (Papers).

  2. Qiqqa: A reference management and research productivity tool offering PDF annotation, text analysis, and collaboration features (Qiqqa).

  3. Zbib: A lightweight reference management tool for creating and managing bibliographies in plain text format (Zbib).

  4. Citationsy: A reference management tool offering features for organizing and formatting citations, with support for various citation styles (Citationsy).

  5. SciAI: A reference management tool focused on AI-assisted literature discovery and analysis, aiding researchers in finding relevant studies (SciAI).

  6. TRinka: A reference management tool with advanced search and filtering capabilities, tailored for systematic reviews and meta-analyses (TRinka).

  7. Scholarcy: A reference management tool offering AI-driven summarization and analysis of research papers, aiding researchers in understanding complex literature (Scholarcy).

  8. CiteSmart: A reference management tool with features for organizing references, generating bibliographies, and sharing research findings (CiteSmart).

  9. Kudos: A platform for researchers to manage their publications, increase visibility, and track impact through sharing and promoting their work (Kudos).

  10. IrisAI: A reference management tool leveraging AI to assist researchers in literature discovery, analysis, and writing (IrisAI).

  11. Docear4Word: A plugin for Microsoft Word allowing integration with Docear, an academic literature suite with mind mapping and reference management features (Docear4Word).

  12. Cite This For Me: A reference management tool offering citation generation in various styles, with features for organizing and managing references (Cite This For Me).