I remember my very first Uni assignment when I got bombarded with the word ‘referencing’. Being the naive first year I was, I spent hours trying to compile a list of all the sources I had used, putting them alphabetically into Harvard style. This took longer than the time it had taken to write the assignment itself.
Thankfully countless student lives have been saved since discovering the world of reference managers. Allowing students everywhere to focus more on the content of their assignment, or just spending less time on the assignment in general!
There are numerous reference managers to choose from, with most being able to form even the most obscure styles you need to use (because let’s face it, Harvard can get a little boring!).
Here at AFS we have compiled a list of our 5 favourites.
Ref me is without a doubt one of the best on the market, and the great thing is it’s completely free.
A huge advantage is being able to scan your book’s barcode with the app to form your reference on the spot. For the serious book nerds that only source the physical hardcopy stuff, this will be a life changer for you.
The app on this is very simple and easy to use, allowing you to search a reference on the app and save it to your account. You can do your assignment anywhere, at any time (you have no excuse for last minute submissions now!)
It also has a Chrome extension allowing you to add references on the go so you won’t forget about them later.
It is very hard to fault Ref me because it is even better and easier to use than some paid reference managers. It is perfect for undergrads, but may not be detailed enough for final year and masters students.
One great advantage for you PHD students is the ability to share your research through this highly respected platform and get your name out there. The free site also enables you to connect and follow researchers you admire. This is a great way to keep up to date with researchers’ latest articles.
You can also secure your references together on the site which is accessible on all devices.
This isn’t as undergraduate friendly as other reference managers. It lacks a scanning function on the app and is focused a lot more on connecting with other researchers.
Zotero is a great application if you want to cover all areas. A standout feature is its ability to sense the content in your web browser and allow you to add it to your reference library instantly.
It also keeps even the messiest of students very organised with the ability to organise your bank of references however you like. It is also free to use.
Unfortunately the site is very dated. Most features require you to install the application which limits you from searching online instantly.
Easybib is free, simple and convenient to use. If you don’t want to waste time signing up and creating accounts, Easybib’s website allows you to create references without having to log in.
It can search and form references from an abundance of different sources. Even maps for all you geography students out there.
Easybib appears to be a cheap knockoff of Ref me, providing a mediocre service. The scanner on the app tends to be less accurate and crashes often which is a nightmare when you’re stressed out doing an assignment.
EndNote is widely used in the academic world as it is organises and gathers everything you could possibly need.
A key feature for researchers is its ability to match your article with the best journals to publish in.
It can also collect full Pdfs instantly and attach them to your references, giving you a more detailed bibliography.
Unfortunately you have to pay to use it, however they do offer a basic version or a 30 day free trial of the full version. It might not be worthwhile for an undergrad to fork out money for this reference manager. Plenty of other apps do an equally good job!
By Amy Moore