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Universiteitsbibliotheek – LibGuides

Media Studies: Reference Management

Doing a Literature Review

Tools for reference management

There are dozens of dedicated reference management tools. The best known and most widely used are:

  • Mendeley, a free tool primarily built around a full text workflow, with good synchronisation between the desktop application and web interface, with a built in PDF-reader and strong social functions.
  • Zotero, a free, independent and open source tool, with very good ability to recognise and capture bibliographical data on webpages.
  • RefWorks, a complete tool, licensed by Utrecht University, supported by many search engines and databases with fast and reliable direct export options, but, being a pure web service, sometimes a bit slower and without a good full text workflow.
  • EndNote, also very complete and professional, and with almost unlimited sharing functions; there is a UU-license.

To help you choose the tool that best suits your needs, take a look at our comparison tables.

Whatever tool you choose, it is always relatively easy to switch at a later stage and import your references in another tool.

Getting started with Zotero

ZoteroA) Setting up:

  1. Go to Zotero, click download now and download and install Zotero Standalone
  2. Go back to the Zotero download page, scroll to the bottom and install the  bookmarklet in your browser; make sure to make your favourites toolbar visible in your browser; this bookmarklet supports easy importing of bibliographical data
  3. From the same download page install the plugin for Microsoft Word (this supports citing while you write your paper)
  4. Start Zotero Stand Alone, go to options|preferences and then to 'advanced', then to the files tab to select a folder on your hard drive where you store/save your PDFs
  5. Also in options|preferences on the 'search' tab, activate PDF indexing to be able to search the full text of your PDF files
  6. To activate  the library lookup functionality (=UBUlink) please enter the Utrecht University OpenURL-resolver address (with question mark included but without the quotes): "" under tools|preferences|advanced|openurl

B) Getting some stuff in:

  1. Go to Google Scholar, perform a search and import bibliographical data with the bookmarklet  ('save to Zotero') on your favourites toolbar; go to your Zotero desktop application and synchronize (green icon top right) to see the reference
  2. Go to Scopus, perform a search and import bibliographical data with the bookmarklet on your favourites toolbar
  3. Go to WorldCat, perform a search and import bibliographical data with the bookmarklet on your favourites toolbar
  4. From a new Scopus search go to the full text of a paper and download that text as PDF in the folder on your hard disk that you set as linked (watch) folder; then, in Zotero add a new reference with the green +icon, select link to file and select the file on your hard disk; now you can add the metadata of that file by right-clicking the reference in your library and select the option to get the metadata
  5. Find out how you could add a reference completely manually (although you hope to avoid that of course)

C) Organising, reading, annotating

  1. Have a look at your library to see what you have imported/downloaded so far; right-click My Library top left to make a folder and start sorting if you wish
  2. Select a reference in your library using the right-hand pane add a tag/label
  3. Double click an item in your library with full text to read it in your PDF reader; you can also use the annotation options of the reader.

D) Citing:

  1. Start Word
  2. Make a fake sentence and put your cursor halfway and save your document
  3. Using the Zotero functionality on the add-inns page, cite one publication from your Zotero database (you need to search for an author or title word, but you can also get a list by clicking the Z-icon in the dialog and select classic view)
  4. Put your cursor on the in-text citation and click the edit citation button to add a page number
  5. Create the bibliography with the bibliography icon
  6. Switch to another style (e.g. to APA or Chicago Style) and reformat the paper with that style; you can do this with the "set Zotero doc prefs" icon

Support from Zotero itself:

Reference management

Reference management is the way you systematically collect, store, organize, annotate, share and cite sources. Those sources can have any form: articles, books, images, data, multimedia and more. You can collect and store the full text/files or just the bibliographic metadata (title, author, publication year etc.) describing these.

If you use a lot of sources and especially if you often write papers etc. citing these sources it is wise to use a tool that manages recurring tasks and thus makes your workflow easier and more reliable. A big time saver of those tools is the automatic generation of bibliographies with cited literature, in the citation style of your choice (APA, MLA, Nature, Vancouver and more).  These tools are called reference managers or reference management tools. They come in many forms:

For more guidance on choosing a reference management tool, for a comparison chart of functionality and for a quick-start tutorial/training for Mendeley, RefWorks and Zotero visit the full  Reference management LibGuide.