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Whether you are working on a proposal, thesis or paper, studying for comps or learning about a new subject for a course or work, there are some great software packages that can help you collect and report your sources or references. And, some of the new online tools provide a forum in which you can share information with others.

Typically, students tend to use the software that their professors or schools have or know about. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with that. After all, you have to start somewhere. However, in this world of ever evolving software, there may be options that work even better for you.

I am confident that many of you are familiar with some of these tools, e.g., EndNote and RefWorks. Have you heard of Mendeley? I started using it recently to gather info about the subject for a documentary on which I am working. One convenient feature is a button you can add to your browser’s bookmarks/toolbar that let’s you directly add a citation or document to your reference database. I.e., I click the button, and it transfers the PDF or abstract to my (free)  Mendeley account. This tool also makes it easier to collect references from online searches not involving scientific databases like PubMed, i.e., Google or Bing searches.

I am not advocating the use of Mendeley, specifically, just suggesting that you take a few minutes to see if you have the best possible tool for your needs. I also want to remind folks that you don’t have to be a researcher to take advantage of some of these tools.

Here is one list of similar tools: Comparison of Reference Management Software

Here are some tips on choosing this type of software (on a site focusing on literature reviews, who knew?!): Six Tips on How to Choose Reference Management Software

What is your favorite (e.g., most efficient, easy to use…free?) reference or source management tool? Why?

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