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Reference management

Reference management

In the scientific community, establishing theories and claims as facts are all based on scientific work and sources created by other researchers. Thus, it is important to always create transparency by allowing others to retrace your steps and by providing all sources used in your work. Every source that has been cited in the text should be mentioned in the list of references, and every source mentioned in the list of references should be cited in the text.

Main principles:

  • your own ideas should be clearly distinguished from those that you have cited
  • reference information must be stated as accurately as possible
  • style of referencing must be consistent throughout your work

Reference management programs

Reference management programs help you collect and organize materials you cite in your work and provide a useful way to keep track of your sources. They also allow you to use different referencing styles, e.g., APA, Chicago, MLA, Harvard etc. If you decide to use a reference management program, we recommend the free version of Mendeley or Zotero because they both are compatible with Microsoft Word.


Why use a reference management program?

  • saves time
  • easy to keep track of and organize your references
  • quickly add references and a bibliography in the text
  • can change the reference style with one click


How does a reference management program work?

The program collects the bibliographic information of references from different sources, such as databases or imported files, and stores it. You can then modify and organize them into folders and attach or view already attached PDFs. When writing your research, you can easily add references in the text and create a bibliography that stays up to date when you add new references. Reference management programs work with Microsoft Word, Libre Office, Google Docs and LaTex.


Choosing a reference management program

When choosing a reference management program, you must take into consideration your needs. Do you want the program to be compatible with a certain word processor?  Do you want you use the program on more than one device? Do you want to be able to work offline? To help you with your decision, check out this comparison between Mendeley, Zotero and EndNote (link to the table). In Wikipedia, there is also a more comprehensive list of different reference management programs (link to the comparison).

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