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Citation Management After RefWorks Goes Away

October 3, 2014

If you have not already heard the news, Drexel will cancel its subscription to RefWorks at the end of September. Users have a one-month grace period to move the contents of their accounts to another platform (by October 31st), or pay for a personal subscription

What are the alternatives?

1.) EndNote Desktop: The rationale behind the cancellation was that Drexel's campus computing office, IRT, already site licenses the desktop software EndNote which is available for download from their website. Endnote desktop is good for students who mostly work on their own computer on which they can install software. Our library guide page has instructions on how to transfer your citations into EndNote, along with links to training videos and a schedule of live sessions from the vendor.

2.) EndNote Web: Student who enjoy having a web-based option with no desktop software to install should try EndNoteWeb. It offers a slimmed down interface, but can handle whatever citations you have exported from RefWorks, lets you create folders, generates bibliographies, and uses the same 'Cite-While-You-Write' plugin as EndNote desktop to place your 'in-text' citations in the body of your MSWord document. A note of caution is that if you have lots of folders in RefWorks, you will have to export their contents one at a time, and then create a new folder in EndNote Web for each prior to importing. That same limitation exists for EndNote Desktop.

3.) Zotero: Students who enjoy FireFox browser plugins should explore this downloadable option. It's good for students who work on their own computer on which they can install software. Our library guide page has instructions on how to transfer RefWorks citations into Zotero and there is loads of online help for this open source tool. The downside is if you move between different machines for doing research some of your capabilities are limited on machines other than your own. The upside is that it supports many good collaborative features.

4.) Flow: Reluctantly, I will include this 'freemium' successsor to RefWorks from the parent database company Proquest. Very similar to RefWorks, it offers a web-based personal account, import from RefWorks and a plugin to place your 'in-text' citations in the body of your MSWord document called 'Proquest for Word.' One big problem limits my enthusiasm for the cool drag and drop interface and ease of importing from library databases (using RefWorks format). Without a Drexel subscription, the links from any citations in Flow do not link backto full text through Drexel Libraries. Despite the comparatively generous 2gb of storage and ability to share a project with 10 collaborators, I cannot recommend this tool with core features such as library linking disabled.

5.) Mendeley: While attracting much good press, I don't personally know of an active user community on our campus and no librarian on staff supports it. This is also a freemium account offered by a library database vendor (Elsevier) with software you install on your desktop. They seem to compare well by their own account with most of the tools mentioned here and offer a simlarly generous 2gb of storage and ability to share a project with 3 collaborators. But you are on your own with this one if you hit a snag.

Want more insight? Check out this recent detailed review of these same tools along with a few others.

I hope that helps lay out the options for you! Feel free to get in touch if you have further questions!

Best,
Tim