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MUI1020HF: Civic Engagement and Economic Development (Fall 2023)

A research guide for MUI1020 students completing their case study assignment


Citation management tools, also known as reference management or personal bibliographic software, allow researchers to:

  • capture and manage citations or references for re-use,
  • streamline the creation of bibliographies or list of references, and
  • automate the formatting of these references, using various standard citation styles. 

Most systems allow for both manual entry of citations or references and the automatic extraction of the bibliographic data associated with articles or other publications found in library databases.  Some tools allow the PDF to be stored and  tagging and/or commenting on both the citation and full-text may be possible.  Many tools also now have 'social' features that support the publication and sharing of your references for reuse by others and vice versa.

There are many tools available for citation management.  See here for a comprehensive listing and comparison.  Links to guides for more information about various tools can be found below.

Two free tools widely used at the University of Toronto and many other academic institutions are:

  • Zotero, and
  • Mendeley (some features are restricted to a paid, premium version)

The Library recommends that students experiment with various reference management tools to find the one that best needs their research needs and research workflow.




  • Available as browser extension and desktop application
  • Open source with active community of developers and advocates
  • Good for most formats, including websites, legislation, patents, audio and video files
  • Easy to use - browser extension detects content for downloading
  • Allows additional tagging of records (references or bibliographic data)
  • Has Word and OpenOffice plug-in for word processor integration
  • 300MB free storage


  • Duplication and orphans, e.g. duplicate records for same item, unlinked files
  • Records not always complete
  • No annotation of PDFs
  • Firefox-centric; will work with Safari and Chrome but through connector plug-ins for these browsers
  • Storage may not be adequate for large, multi-year research projects



Mendeley Logo


  • Desktop, web-based application and plug-in
  • Works with all browsers
  • Easy to use
  • PDF management and annotation (highlighting and commenting)
  • Social features: profile creation, following, sharing, and discovery of other libraries'
  • Word and OpenOffice integration
  • 2G of storage for individuals


  • Supports fewer databases than Zotero; imports are sometimes problematic
  • Corporate owner; affiliated with Elsevier
  • Some features associated with a paid premium version