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ESCape: How to Choose Bibliographic Software

This opinionated guide is designed to help you decide which reference or citation management product to use for storing and organizing information.

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Materials for 3/26/2013 ESCape Session

Survey completed prior to ESCape 3/26/2013 session:

Summary of results (11 completed survey)

1. Majority use RefWorks, second most used is Zotero.

2. Those keeping article files on computer = those keeping a mix of computer and paper files.

3. Most respondents list easy as first criterion for choosing a reference manager, followed by ability to share with others, ease to convert PDF collection to entries in reference manager, and what colleagues are using.

4. Most commonly used data sources in order of popularity


Google Scholar



5. What topics should be included in a presentation about bibliographic software:

Best software choice

Why use one instead of keeping a library of PDFs in Dropbox and searching for articles. In what ways can one of these programs search and sort?

How to get help with the software

6. Most said they have bibliographic software but do not use it well

PowerPoint used during session gives an opinionated outline of considerations when choosing bibilographic software.

Handout includes a table comparing top 5 databases, a list of additional websites for more detailed information and a step-by-step guide to getting started with RefWorks and Mendeley.

Follow up to 3/26 session. Two Word attachments at the bottom of the page. One comparing the process of adding PDFs to RefWorks, Mendeley, and Zotero when you have not already stored the PDF on your computer. The second looks at  a comparison when you already have the PDF stored on your computer.  Let me know if you have questions.  Whit


Evans Whitaker
Room 348
UCSF Medical Library
530 Parnassus Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94143
(415) 476-2534