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Alternative Citation Managers: Comparison Table

This guide will assist students and faculty at SPC with switching from RefWorks to Zotero or Mendeley citation managers.

Comparison Table

Developer RefWorks Elsevier Centre for History and New Media at GMU
Cost Not free (SPC No Longer has Subscription) Free Free
Access Desktop applications. Web-based applications Desktop applications. Web-based applications Firefox Add-on. Desktop Application through Standalone application on Internet Explorer or Chrome
Must be online? Yes No No
Import from databases Direct export from specific databases Yes, with Mendelay import browser plugin Yes
Export RefWorks format, RIS bibliographic software BibTex, EndNote (XML), RIS BibTex, RIS, Refer/BiblX, Bibliontology, MODS
How does it work? Export references from compatible databases into RefWorks Export references from compatible databases into Mendeley Click on item records to add to your Zotero references/collections
Import citation information from web pages Yes, with RefGrab-It Yes, with Mendeley Import browser plugin. Also archives the page and allows annotations Yes. Also archives the page and allows annotations
Cross-platform syncing across desktop, web and mobile devices No Yes Yes
Attach and organise associated files eg PDFs Yes (limited) Yes, and can annotate and highlight Yes, with option to annotate automatically; annotate and highlight
Screen capture web page content eg blogs, videos No Yes Yes
Extract DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers) Yes Yes Yes
Full-text searching across PDFs No Yes Yes: not enabled by default
Tagging Yes (keywords) Yes Yes
Add notes to references Yes: in 'notes' or 'user' fields Yes: in 'notes' tab on desktop Yes
Citation PlugIns for Word Yes Yes Yes
Word Processor compatibility MS Word with Write-N-Cite MS Word, Open Office MS Word, Open Office, Google Docs
Duplicate detection Yes Yes Yes. Limited
Create bibliography with different styles Yes Yes Yes
Edit or create citation styles Yes Yes Yes: via Citation Style Editor
Private Groups Yes but other users cannot add more references Yes: small groups up to 3 are free. Costs for larger groups Yes
Public Groups No Yes Yes
Sharing References Others can be invited to view references Others can be invited to share and view references Others can be invited to share and view references
Storage Capacity Default is 100MB per user. Can be increased to 5GB: limit of 20MB per attachment Unlimited local storage and data syncing. 1 GB free mendeley web space. More space can be purchased Unlimited local storage and data syncing. 100MB free Zotero web space. More space can be purchased.
Mobile app Yes. RefMobile (mobile and smart phones, PDAs) Yes. iPad, iPhone, 3rd party Android apps, web interface Yes.3rd party IOS and Android apps, web interface
Open Source No No Yes
Other features
  • Access for web-connected mobile devices at
  • Allows users to share citations
  • Good for organising citations for papers
  • Web-based so you are not limited to a single machine
  • Sync My Library with multiple computers. Use tags to organise/search
  • Great for managing PDFs; enables highlighting and comments on PDFs
  • Has a social aspect: you can see what other users are reading
  • Pulls citation metadata from PDFs
  • Share citations and documents with others
  • Sync My Library with multiple computers. Use tags to organise/search
  • Simple download of records
  • Good for managing a variety of formats, including webpages
  • Integrated with work you do on the web