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The Industry Researcher’s Guide to Effective Literature Searching

A guide designed for industry researchers

Benefits of citation managers

If you are doing a large research project, using reference managing software streamlines your workflow. 

  • Citations alone or citations with the PDF attached can be stored and organised according your needs. 
  • You can also make notes, and sometimes annotated PDFs within your collection. 
  • Identifying and removing any duplicates is easy if you have picked up the same citation more than once. 
  • If you already have an article PDF, the software will read the metadata, or descriptive information, to create a reference from the PDF.    

Citation managers and writing

Citation managers connect with Microsoft Word, and sometimes other word processing options like Google Docs or LibreOffice, to let you automatically pull a citation, formatted in whatever referencing style you choose, into the proper place in the text, and add it, correctly formatted, into the reference list. 

Sharing PDFs

Most programmes also allow you to share some or all of your references and PDFs with someone else, or a group, working with the same citation manager.  This can facilitate group research, or can make it easy to share references with a supervisor or colleague.

Comparing software

Many programmes are available, but arguably the four used most by researchers are EndNote, Mendeley, Sciwheel (formally F1000workspace), and Zotero.  Each programme has different advantages, and your choice might be influenced by the need to work offline, by what colleagues you need to collaborate with are using, or by price. 

Remember that it is easy to move all your reference from one programme to another if you decide you'd like to switch. 


EndNote Desktop Mendeley Sciwheel Zotero
Cost Subscription  Basic account free Subscription but free trial (possibly free through your institution) Free with option to purchase additional storage
Offline use online or offline online or offline online online or offline
Annotation of PDFs? yes yes yes no
Word processor Microsoft Word Microsoft Word, LibreOffice Microsoft Word, LibreOffice Microsoft Word, LibreOffice
Deduplication yes yes yes yes

*This chart has been adapted from the Compare EndNote, Sciwheel, Mendeley, Zotero: At a Glance guide from the University of North Carolina Health Sciences Library:

Each of these programmes have browser plugins that make it easy to collect references, and as you do searches within databases you can export selected references into them.  


Best practice!

BEST PRACTICE RECOMMENDATION: choose a citation manager before you start your literature searching, and always save all relevant references you find in your searches.  Learn how the program you're using works right away, so you can take full advantage of its functionality.