Talk:Comparison of reference management software/Archives/2013

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Many thanks to all authors for collect data and for making this article.
Andreas Gabler (talk) 11:28, 25 May 2012 (UTC)


Great resource.

A few comments: the import table lists the following databases as unsupported by Zotero: Copac, CSA, ISI, Medline, Ovid, PubMed, SciFinder. I believe Ovid, CSA, and PubMed, however, all work with Zotero, as does Copac's experimental interface. And Medline is available via PubMed, Ovid, and Ebsco, all of which are Zotero-compatible. Karikraus 02:14, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

I also responded to you in the Zotero forums...
Thanks for the clarification. The import table is meant to list file formats which users can manually import, as opposed to sites that can be imported. If some of the site translators use the raw formats, perhaps they should be changed to "partial" & it should be made clear that Zotero can import that file type from a particular set of sites.
This differs from the "database connectivity" section, which is where the individual "site translators" belong.
Copac is a good example of this. They have their own tagged file format, but Zotero doesn't understand it. However, the site is adding COinS, which Zotero can read. If Copac was added to the database connectivity section, there would be a "yes" in it for Zotero. However, there would still be a "no" for the import file format.
Feel free to amend the wiki, though--that's why I put it here, rather than on my own site. --Karnesky 02:29, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

When Zotero 2.0 becomes official, will it be considered web-based? Also, is there a way to discover market share for user comparison? Aaronchall (talk) 02:29, 18 February 2010 (UTC)

Zotero 2.0 is official. While references can be displayed online, there is still no mechanism to add them other than to use the Zotero client from within Firefox. I do not think reliable information on marketshare exists (software categories that are more popular than this one have a problem with this & vendors have little reason to advertise accurate information in many cases, so it is not surprising). If you find some, feel free to add it. --Karnesky (talk) 00:45, 11 March 2010 (UTC)

refworks pricing

Dunno how to reference in wiki but the price is 100$ individual, heres the link tis pretty hidden on the site. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 00:51, 8 April 2007 (UTC).

Other possible points of comparison

Some of these come from [1]:

  • Documentation
    • Reference manual
    • Tutorial
    • Context-sensitive Help screens
  • Support
    • Free vs. paid
    • mailing lists, forums, etc.
    • upgrade costs
  • Z39.50 searching
  • Duplicate detection
  • Attached documents
    • PDF/Graphics/other
    • Quantity of attachments
  • RSS
  • Subset management
  • unicode support
  • macros
  • keyboard shortcuts
  • relational database vs. flat database vs. flatfile
  • record types
  • subrecord types (e.g. letter in book in a series...)
  • modify and/or add fields
  • mandatory fields
  • spell checker
  • copy a record
  • global corrections
  • import
    • batch
    • subset of batch
  • related items (and the specific type(s) of relation(s) that you can denote)
  • Searching
    • regex
    • boolean, etc. operators
    • natural language
    • specific fields vs some fields vs all fields
  • Rich formatting (super/sub scripts; bold/underline/italics; semantic markup)
  • Miscellaneous
    • User-written plug-in architecture
    • Localization/translation
    • Citation formatting (as opposed to bibliographic formatting) -- in-text (context-sensitive), footnotes, endnotes
    • Store notes, quotations etc.
    • Multi-user or single-user (perhaps a column in the password/network section). This can be inferred from that section but is not explicitly stated
    • User and group bibliographies drawn from the main bibliography
    • CMS integration

Sirfragalot 05:51, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

--Karnesky 20:08, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Realise I'm an anonymous user in this instance, and if you check the IP you'll find it's somewhere at the Queensland University of Technology ( One point of comparison I think would be immensely valuable is the means by which you can generate a reference (and is not something I noticed elsewhere on this discussion page). What I mean by this for example is that with Bibtex/Latex you can cite in a number of ways, e.g. \cite{}, \citeasnoun{}, \posessivecite{}, as well as citing just the author name, just the year. By contrast citations using Word/Endnote you have a single citation button that generates a specific style of citation. In both instances I believe there is opportunity to add pre and post information that appears (such as a page number of a citation), but these features and how you can create a citation will differ between the different packages available. I will keep an eye on this site over the coming days in case anyone has any comment with regard to this suggestion. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:23, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

Does the date of first release mean anything?

I had a change reverted because of "lack of space." If space is a premium, why include date of first release in the table? I nominate that for removal.Aaronchall (talk) 03:58, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

I just noticed this post. I reverted your removal of the column. It appears in other comparisons of reference management software and also in other software comparisons on Wikipedia. It is, at minimum, of historical interest. --Karnesky (talk) 00:41, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
Well Karnesky, since you're so concerned about space as a premium in the table, I would think you'd consider that column a much more judicious removal. The whole point of such a table is to enable side-by-side comparison. Those interested in length of existence or time of origin can easily find that information by clicking the name and going to the individual page. If space is so tight, let's remove that column, so that other important comparison information that doesn't neatly in a table can be appended in the note column. Note, you also reverted space savings from other columns that waste space with extra unneeded characters. --Aaronchall (talk) 05:21, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
I agree the point is to enable a comparison. The initial release date is unbiased, quantitative, and discrete. Contrast this to the notes column, which has the potential to be biased, contentious, and arbitrary. At the very least, it is inconsistent. Why mention that Zotero has Word/OO.o Writer plugins when we don't for, say, Endnote (esp. when this information is contained, explicitly, in a lower table)? The former makes for a much better comparison than the latter. I'm almost sorry to have included the Notes column to begin with!
I do not know what "space savings" you refer to. If it was this edit, it is only because it came after your first edit. But note that the space savings there came at the cost of precision: you removed notes that some software had tiered pricing & also removed the differentiation for those products under subscription-based models. The comparison becomes misleading because of this. --Karnesky (talk) 22:01, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
I believe that since the point of a table is for comparison, and since space is valuable, only valuable information with meaningful differentiation should be included in the table. The date of first release is relatively irrelevant to Wikipedia users seeking to compare software. Perhaps there would be utility for those studying the evolution and competition of software, but that is a specialized academic pursuit. Those looking at the first table are likely to be looking for points of comparison to aid decision making regarding choice of software. I refer people to this page often so that they can see all of their alternatives. Let's improve this page's utility.--Aaronchall (talk) 09:57, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
I rather like the date of first release column. It is even useful from the perspective of choosing software, since it gives an idea of a given package's history. It is good to know whether something is a Johnny-come-lately, and the first release date is a nice quick metric for that.Avram (talk) 20:05, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
WP is an encyclopedia & this page should not be limited to merely a consumer-focused aid for selecting software. That being said, it doesn't seem like the column is a strong impediment to selection & I see no reasonable basis to remove it. --Karnesky (talk) 22:04, 14 March 2010 (UTC)


I don't know if citation file format is really the best place to include RSS support, but other projects had crammed their support in there. --Karnesky 14:51, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

I added it in for WIKINDX because another had it there. Whenever I see the heading 'Citation file format' I always have to think a bit about what it means -- some confusion with export format? If it means the file or stream format in which formatted bibliographies can be output to (as opposed to raw, unformatted output to bibtex, Endnote etc.), then RSS belongs here. Sirfragalot 05:58, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps we could cleanup confusion somehow? This is how I'd define the two different categories:
  • export format -- computer readable format for data exchange
  • citation format -- way of storing stylized (APA, MLA, etc.) citations
For most applications, RSS doesn't fit in either of these very well--RSS feeds can only represent a single citation style. Perhaps it belongs in the networking table? --Karnesky 14:21, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Re citation/export format confusion. Your suggestion makes sense (HTML, RTF etc then belong with bibtex, Endnote etc. as export formats and then you wouldn't need citation format as you already have citation styles. and, in this case, RSS as a 'computer readable format for data exchange' (XML actually) would belong in 'export format'. Sirfragalot 15:18, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

With further reflection, I think the current situation (with RSS in citation file formats) is probably the best compromise, as not-networked apps such as BibDesk can produce RSS too.
I think it is useful to differentiate between file formats that can be imported into another database. There is no single standard for citation information in RSS, so import of that format is less trivial than for ant other format listed in the export table. While many RSS generators do not support multiple citation styles the way that HTML, LaTeX, RTF, and Plain text usually do, they usually contain HTML or textual information that is ultimately to be read my humans (rather than imported into some other piece of software). --Karnesky 22:48, 30 July 2007 (UTC)


Perhaps something needed to indicate ancillary software required. e.g. refbase, wikindx etc. require a web server, PHP and MySQL. Also, both of these systems are listed as 'web-based' -- anyone looking for a single-user system may end up over-looking these two (and others) not realizing that, with the appropriate ancillary software, they can be run on a desktop machine. Sirfragalot 06:07, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

I think this is covered in "operating system support." Aigaion, Connotea, refbase, and wikindx all list "yes," whereas the proprietary apps that you can't use on a single-user system (Bibsonomy, CiteULike, and RefWorks) all list "N/A." --Karnesky 14:27, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

I still think it's confusing for someone who's not familiar with the software or who is not that computer-literate. If you take wikindx as an example, it says it's web-based and runs on all the OSs listed. It doesn't indicate that it can be run by a single user on a desktop machine. Not does it state that in all cases, PHP and MySQL need to be installed. pybliographer, for example, requires python and others may work with different databases or just flat text files. Sirfragalot 15:12, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

AMEN to what is being said. A comparison page should include the delivery technologies: php/mysql vs. python, etc.

MonteShaffer 00:32, 18 July 2007 (UTC)

Comparison of wiki software has columns for "programming language" and "data backend." Something similar would probably be a good idea. I was avoiding these at first, as most of the comparison entries are for desktop apps (where it is less of an issue) & half of the webapps are centrally hosted proprietary apps (where things are less relevant to end users & possibly unknown black boxes). Feel free to add these two columns--I've put in a brief description of "web-based" vs "centrally hosted" until someone adds this info. --Karnesky 23:04, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
Even with this comment I do not understand the difference between "web-based" and "centrally-hosted website". How can a "centrally-hosted website" be NOT "web-based"? User:Oger000 09:55, 27 January 2010 (CET)
Feel free to propose another term to describe web-based software that can be installed on a personal web server. --Karnesky (talk) 13:51, 27 January 2010 (UTC)

Other software

Other lists and comparison pages make having a WP article a pre-requisite of being on the page. This provides a test of notability, as the product can be challenged through AfD. We have several entries that are red links. Should we keep them (the only reason I haven't done a purge yet is because I like them) or adopt the same criteria for this page too? --Karnesky (talk) 17:20, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

I've commented them out for now. I'd support the creation or recreation of WP pages for the three products in question & would suggest that they then be uncommented. --Karnesky (talk) 05:31, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

Software with articles already

  • OO.o Writer
  • MS Word
MS Word from the 2007 version on has a fairly comprehensive bibliography manager. Is there some reason it isn't included here? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mr Minchin (talkcontribs) 17:21, 17 November 2010 (UTC)
What about Latex/Bibtex? Zargulon 12:23, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
Programs that use a bibtex file for storage are already listed. Several of the comparison points can't be applied to something which is essentially a backend/file format. That being said: feel free to try. --Karnesky 13:16, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
Right--see Bibdesk and JabRef. CHE 21:46, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
Contrary to the table, Lyx does allow the import of BibTeX databases. Therefore, a separate LyX column beyond the BibTeX column only makes sense for the two databases that do not allow BibTex-Export, namely Scholar's Aid and WizFolio. I have no experience with these two.
That column is for integration with the program (through, e.g. lyxpipes). This allows you to use your reference manager to insert a selected reference into LyX at a particular point in the text. --Karnesky (talk) 16:40, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

Software without articles

  • I don't have time right now to investigate, but I think should be added to this page.
  • Maybe it's worth to add also Biborb:

Both of the above were added anonymously (with active urls). I think that this list should be limited to notable software. If someone feels that these are notable, the first step would be to write a WP article on them that asserts notability (so that it won't be deleted). --Karnesky 22:25, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

  • Should probably add QUOSA Rakerman (talk) 20:22, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Should probably add kbib an application created for the KDE desktop —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:11, 28 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Should probably add Citavi -- (talk) 18:52, 25 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Should probably add Brainify It was created in 2008 by Murray Goldberg, who also created WebCT and Silicon Chalk, so he's good good credentials. Lanegs1 (talk) 15:19, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
  • I just removed Harvard Air from the list; the corresponding wiki article had been speedy deleted already. The listing was clearly added by a person with a personal interest, and the project appears to be brand new. If anyone is concerned that the listing should have been maintained, please note your concerns here. Avram (talk) 14:17, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Should probably add Devonthink? It has scribus support for mac. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:24, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
  • ReadCube also has most of the features listed here. It should be added. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:44, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Paperpile is a Chrome app, and uses google drive to store the pdfs. The software is still in beta but I've been using it for the last month or so and find it very useful. is the URL.

Software already included

  • Software like Papers, Bookends and Sente should really be added to this comparison. Papers especially is a fantastic software that outdoes all of this others by FAR in features and user interaction —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:05, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes, indeed, info on Bookends should really be added! see, e.g., - (talk) 14:12, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

Production of Wikipedia-compatible Citation-lists

Two questions.

1) Does anyone know if any of these reference management software packages can generate Wikipedia-compatible citation templates of the "<ref...{cite..." variety?
2) If so, would other editors support adding this information to the table comparing the various packages?

My two cents: it would be a useful addition (maybe add another column) to the comparison table if at least one of these packages supports Wikipedia output styles today. N2e (talk) 16:13, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

  1. Yes. Zotero and refbase both do (and the latter can be used as a bibliographic manager for MediaWiki sites, allowing automatic building of a citation. Further: any reference manager with a way to make other citation formats can obviously be extended to allow WP citation template (usually fairly easily).
  2. Not at this time. WP:SELF. Zotero already mentions WP support. Perhaps refbase should too, but there's no reason for another column until more reference managers offer it. --Karnesky (talk) 16:33, 18 February 2008 (UTC)


There's an article for the GPapers project but its not listed in this article. I think its worth adding, seeing that its a fully functional OpenSource alternative to some of the more popular ref management software like Papers. Anyone disagree, or should I go ahead and add a row to each of the tables? Bestchai (talk) 21:32, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

formatting problem

In the main article, the sorting buttons on the "Word Processor Integration" table redirect to the top of the page, instead of re-sorting the table. I don't know how to fiddle these aspects of tables. (talk) 06:50, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Fixed The problem was that papers didn't have anything specified--it is best to explicitly set all cells to some value, even if that value is "{{dunno}}" --Karnesky (talk) 08:59, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Mac software not comprehensive yet

We're missing Bookends, the reference software that is occupying the niche that Papers and Sente are trying to get into. Also some free software like iPapers (NB not the same as Papers!) and possibly Cloister. (talk) 16:21, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

Bookends (software) doesn't exist. As such, I commented out the parts describing it. It may be re-added easily once an article exists. --Karnesky (talk) 00:02, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

WizFolio Does anyone have experience with this package?


A new editor has just re-added NoteExpress to the list of products. This is the only item in the list that is a red link. An article on NoteExpress was recently created, but then deleted as WP:CSD#G11 (Blatant advertising). Lacking any third-party commentary on the significance of the NoteExpress software, and since the entry remains a red link, I suggest that it be removed from the list. EdJohnston (talk) 04:20, 17 January 2009 (UTC)

Sorry my mistake! However, I didn't re-add it, it was there already but it was not removed when the previous reverts were done by RHaworth. I did find the lack of article link odd and when browsing to it later found the delete notice, but I didn't remember to come back and remove it. The.empty.set (talk) 12:43, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

Jumper 2.0

Does it really provide reference management capability? I did not find any, it is rather general search/CMS software. Can anybody supply a use case for reference management? The initial record was made at 17:33, 8 May 2009 from shared IP address, which is not very trustfull. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Zeliboba7 (talkcontribs)


We need to undo these edits. I did OS. Will need to get to citation styles & word processor support later, unless someone beats me to it. --Karnesky (talk) 21:56, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

websearch for data record completion as feature?

hi. Very good and helpful overview, thx for that.

May i ask if anyone knows if a search on the web with the data of an existing local record to complete it automatically is supported by any of these (or other) tools?? I tried a few tools but always they offer a form to enter values instead of performing a search with the values in the existing record. - Is it clear what i mean? FlorianKonnertz (talk) 18:16, 13 April 2009 (UTC)

Linkage to OpenURL

Would be good to have a section that shows which software allows users to link to library's OpenURL. Could be included in database connectivity section Kendric Apple (talk) 02:07, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

Ability to handle quotations

Many applications allow to work only with a list of references to sources. But often there is need to work with quotations (quoted text). Which applications support this feature? (Something similar to ScrapBook extension.) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:34, 2 November 2010 (UTC) (talk) 20:39, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Social citations / reference sharing

Nice article!

I'd like to incorporate this list from List of social software#Social_citations into this article:

Presumably these are all services which include some kind of social bookmarking functionality.

Can anyone more familiar with these systems identify the encyclopedic way to compare the social functionality of ref management software? --Pnm (talk) 19:31, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

why is noodlebib not included? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:55, 26 January 2011 (UTC)

More features for comparison

Hi. Great comparison already. I would find it useful to see for the different programs if you can attach files/filepaths with the software and if it scans pdfs to extract reference information. Ben T/C 10:43, 30 July 2011 (UTC)

Open source vs licence

The first table has two columns, open source and licence. The licence column only names the licence if it is open source, otherwise just saying the software is proprietary. There is no point in having a redundant open source column. The column should be deleted, and the licence column could be renamed to "open source", with the colour coding carried over. --Joshua Issac (talk) 18:15, 8 August 2012 (UTC)

Operating system support

What about including mobile/ARM based operating systems: Android, iOS? As Papers and Mendeley have iOS support as indicated in General:Notes. Kazkaskazkasako (talk) 13:22, 21 April 2013 (UTC)

"Local" sharing / networking / server

I'd like to add a column for "local" sharing / collaboration over the network / server (naming suggestions welcome). The idea is that several software packages (Endnote Web, Zotero) allow synchronization only over their servers, which is a no-go for many commercial or research institutions (data, metadata, annotations etc. may not leave the house), while others allow you to set up a local server for syncronization.

Objections? Comments?

What about object identifiers?

Should the reference management software be compared on the ability to search for full references by giving only DOI, PMID, JSTOR, PMC, ISBN, ISSN or any other (unique) identifier for printed or digital materials? Kazkaskazkasako (talk) 14:40, 27 November 2009 (UTC)

Yes! That is why I came to this article today. I'm evaluating Zotero, JabRef, and Mendeley; officially, our research department uses EndNote, but I'm on version X3, which lacks this feature. I have used the feature you mention in Mendeley: it works well for a single article; however, it doesn't prompt you to resolve any conflicts (your local data may be clobbered; additionally, you cannot run the command on more than one reference at a time. Even with this limitation, I was able to use it to pull full bibliographic information on 150 references last week. For me, it's a killer feature.
Here is what I have so far:
Reference Manager DOI PMID JSTOR PMC ISBN ISSN Other
Mendeley Yes Yes ? ? ? ? ArXiv ID
EndNote Yes, Version X5 and later [2]
Zotero Yes Yes ? ? Yes
JabRef Unknown
Reference Manager Unknown
Will you please fill in the table and then move it to the article? Thanks! --jcarroll (talk) 12:42, 11 September 2013 (UTC)

Full-text searching in PDFs

Would be useful to know which of these support saving personal copies of PDF files of papers (or indeed Postscript files) and then being able to do a fast full-text search through all of them. I know that you can do this with other software too, but it's handy to have it integrated.--greenrd (talk) 15:09, 20 October 2010 (UTC)

FWIW, This is available in [Zotero] [3] --jcarroll (talk) 12:46, 11 September 2013 (UTC)

Endnote does not allow simultaneous write access michaelomorph (talk) 07:10, 24 September 2013 (UTC)