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Reference Management Software


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Hello all,

Does anyone have suggestions or thoughts on different reference/citation management systems? Mendeley vs. Endnote vs. Zotero, etc. My partner, who is in the sciences, uses Mendeley and likes it a lot. It seems fairly robust, but I'm not sure what most people in the humanities prefer. Are there any systems that are particularly good for organizing digitized primary sources?

I'm starting my PhD in the fall and want to get myself as organized as possible this summer!


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You know there was a thread about this, but I can't seem to find it. D'oh!

Everyone I know in history uses Zotero, but I think it's largely a personal preference thing. They probably just use Zotero because it's cheap. I use Paperpile, and I've never felt the need to use anything more.

If you went with either of the three that you listed, I think you'd be fine. If memory serves, forum-goers reported in previously-mentioned, unfindable thread a broad variety of preferences. Whatever you choose, I would advise that you choose a platform that exports as BibTex or RIS so you could at least migrate to another platform.

Sorry that I didn't have more insight! :( 

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When I started school I asked the same question and the advice I got was: choose one and stick to that one. By "one" they meant one between Zotero or Endnote. I chose Zotero. It is free, it has good extensions for word processors and websites, and it syncs online. 

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I use Papers 2, and for a time, everything else seemed inferior. That is until the developers released Papers 3.

Anything else is superior to Papers 3. The developers made it a pain in the rear end to transfer files between Papers 2 and 3. Like, instead of doing a simple transfer, you have to upload everything into Dropbox for it to read it. The UI is confusing, and I'm not even sure today how to add documents into it. Whereas Papers 2 would allow you to go into any database's website and download the file within the app, Papers 3 tries to do everything for you...without showing you the respective database's website. This attempt for ease of convenience simply results in a muddle mess.

The fact Springer's purchase of the developers coincided with the release of Papers 3 makes it clear what happened. Papers was subsequently purchased by Readcube (owned by Wiley), so we'll see if anything happens.

But given that I still don't trust Papers 3, I'm still using Papers 2. It does what I need it to do. And even if the citation generator isn't up to snuff, I still prefer it over the alternatives.

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I use Sente. My main reason was I wanted something that worked on both my Mac laptop and my iPad (and iPhone in some cases, but very rarely). They also give you unlimited space for the cloud. Everything still resides on your devices, but it also resides in the cloud, so if you switch devices everything syncs. I wanted unlimited cloud space as a sure-fire backup plan (I also use time machine and a separate cloud-based backup service... very paranoid lol). Also, I want to keep LITERALLY my entire scholarly library in the cloud (in addition to on my devices), so unlimited was a must.

I don't know if the other products now have these features, but Sente was the only one two years ago that had everything I needed/wanted. I switched to Sente from Papers a few years ago... When I moved from Papers 2 to Papers 3 it lost my entire library (this seems to have been a fairly common occurrence with other people, too!). Maybe they've gotten better since then, but I don't trust them anymore.

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