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Bibliographic management


Using a tool to manage and create references can be helpful, particularly if you need to manage a large number of references. Bibliographic management (also known as reference management) tools provide a way to collect and save details of the resources you have used in your work. They can then generate references, reference lists and bibliographies in a variety of referencing styles.

Selecting a tool to manage your references

There are a range of free and paid for tools available. Many are web-based and free although please note free versions may have limitations, such as the amount of storage space.

  • There are websites that allow you to instantly generate a single reference, often known as citation generators.
  • Word processing software may have plugins which allow you to generate references as you write.
  • Other tools provide extensions to your browser which help you easily collect references.
  • Several applications allow you to access them online and/or install them onto your device.

The Open University does not endorse a particular product but this Selecting a reference management tool activity will help you choose the right one for you. Wikipedia provides a page containing an extensive comparison of tools you may also find useful.

Staff and postgraduate researchers using OU-managed devices can download EndNote via the Application Catalogue. For help with this contact the IT Helpdesk.

Support for reference management tools

The library provides a training session that gives an Introduction to reference management tools and an activity that provides help when using Reference management tools with library databases (requires login).

The Library helpdesk does not provide support for these tools. However, below is a list of links to various help materials for some of the more popular tools. If you are still struggling to find an answer to your question, please contact the supplier directly.

Tool Videos Further Support
Endnote Endnote YouTube EndNote technical support
Endnote Basic (Free)  Endnote Basic YouTube  
Mendeley (Free) Mendeley YouTube Mendeley Support Center
Papers Papers YouTube Papers Support Home
Zotero (Free) Zotero YouTube Zotero documentation and forums 
Google Scholar Button GSB on You Tube Microsoft Support
ZoteroBib   ZoteroBib FAQs
MyBib   MyBib Intro Guide