Zotero v. Mendeley v. EndNote

Yesterday, I wrote about the benefits to moving to an digital reference/citation manager.  For those of you that I convinced with that missive, I offer below, a comparison of the benefits and disadvantages of Zotero and Mendeley, and a brief mention from EndNote.   The following are points from this handy video that Portland State University made about Zotero and Mendely.

Zotero:

-open source, designed by academics at George Mason.

-free, with a knowledgeable community that provides support.

-emphasis on getting information/data out of Zotero into a format that is useful for user.

-use with Firefox, Safari, and Chrome (as a stand alone application)

-better for grabbing citations off the web (literally, you click a button and information from the page you’re on auto populates into Zotero libary).

-better for collaboration with multiple authors and groups (no limit on group size or authors)

-searches only abstract, citation, and notes for a particular quote.

-can work across multiple machines, allowing citations and pdfs to be linked on a server.  Limit: 300 mb of free space to sync, which is quite a lot, if you doing just citations.  If, however, you are syncing pdfs, it is easy to run through 100 mb relatively quickly.  Additional space can be purchased ($5 per month for 6 GB, unlimited for $10 per month).

-exporting content to other programs (EndNote, Word, etc) appears to be easier in Zotero.

Mendeley:

-proprietary/entreprenurial focusing on profitability, meaning that there is an emphasis on improving product.

-products and services they offer for free know might require payment in the future.

-superior for viewing and annotating pdfs within software (great for highlighting and adding notes).

-superior search functionality (searches not only citation, but the entire text of paper) for a specific quotes.

-not as great at pulling articles off of the web.

-limits to collaboration (3 groups for free, can’t have more 4 members per team).  Paid plans can be pricey ($49 per month).  However, group features are more robust than for Zotero.

-offers 1 GB for free, additional storage price is quite more expensive ($5 per month for 5GB, or unlimited for $15 per month).

-can be used alongside Zotero, such that anything that is added to Zotero can be added to Mendeley.  Exporting out is slightly more complicated, but still doable.

EndNote:

-LOL.

-No seriously, the main problem with EndNote is that you have to purchase a license to use it.  While it’s cool for the DePaul family (for which EndNote can be acquired for free) it can be problematic if you leave (unless you are okay with being forced to buy the license at your new institution).  But also, it gets down to whether or not you want to gamble hours and hours of work curating your citation collection on an institution deciding to continue subscribing to a particular product?

The software lives on a machine (who even has only one machine that they work from? What is that even?)  Office machine, personal machine, office machine, personal machine?  What is the point of having multiple machines if you can’t access your work on those machines?  Friend, you know that content needs to be on both machines and it needs to sync.

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Author: Jessica Bishop-Royse

Jessica Bishop-Royse is the SSRC’s Senior Research Methodologist. Her areas of interest include: health disparities, demography, crime, methods, and statistics. She often finds herself navigating the fields of sociology, demography, epidemiology, medicine, public health, and policy. She was broadly trained in data collection, Stata, quantitative research methodology, as well as statistics. She has experience with multi-level analyses, survival analyses, and multivariate regression. Outside of the work context, Jessi is interested in writing, reading, travel, photography, and sport.

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