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Mendeley vs Zotero: Which Citation Tool Is Right for You


Reasons to choose Mendeley:

  • Mendeley is free and open source, and has a large user group, user forums and a developer community. (although Mendeley has been acquired by Elsevier, and may not continue to be free).
  • If you have a huge number of PDF files in your computer that you want to import into a citation manager, Mendeley works the most smoothly for this purpose.
  • If you want to save citations of web pages, Mendeley and Zotero allow you to capture a screenshot of the page as well as other data about the page.
  • If you prefer to use Chrome or Safari as your browser, and don’t want to use Firefox, it might be better to use Mendeley, because Zotero works best as a Firefox extension.
  • The Mendeley web interface is probably the most intuitive, out of the three citation managers.
  • Mendeley was created as a collaborative tool and has more social media features than the other two tools. Mendeley is probably the best choice if you want to share your research with a network of people, find out what citations other people are compiling in their libraries, or search Mendeley’s crowd-sourced research catalog with millions of papers.

Reasons to choose Zotero:

  • Zotero is free and open source, and has a large user group, user forums and a developer community.
  • Zotero is probably the easiest to download and learn.
  • If you want to archive web pages, Zotero and Mendeley allow you to capture a screenshot of the page as well as other data about the page.
  • Zotero's single-click capture works with more databases, catalogs, and websites than Mendeley's Web Importer.
  • With Zotero, you can import citations from sites such as Amazon and Flickr.
  • Zotero offers the best interface for both tagging and writing notes to accompany your citations.

Feature Comparison Chart

Features

Mendeley

Zotero

Documentation and help

Mendeley Getting Started Guide
Mendeley Desktop - learn how to get started with Mendeley Desktop
Mendeley Resource Center - provides Help Guides, Videos & Tutorials

New York Libraries Mendeley Guide

Zotero Quick Start Guide
Getting Started with Zotero for Firefox - learn how to install and start using Zotero for Firefox
Getting Started with Zotero Standalone - learn how to install and start using Zotero Standalone (Chrome and Safari)
Citing Items with Zotero's Word Add-In - learn how to use the Microsoft Word Add-In to cite sources while writing a paper

Type of software

Web interface and Mendeley Desktop, which can sync with online account.

Firefox extension (IE, Chrome and Safari can be used with Zotero Standalone). Can sync with online account, but web library not editable.

Cost

Free to all users (there are costs for upgraded storage).

Free to all users; open source (there are costs for upgraded storage).

Storage/maximum number of records

Unlimited on desktop (size restricted by local storage capacity); 1 GB free web space.

Unlimited on desktop (size restricted by local storage capacity); 300 MB free web storage.

How to get the software

Sign up for an account and download the desktop version at mendeley.com

Sign up for an account and download the Firefox extension or Standalone version at zotero.org

Can be used on both PC and Mac?

Yes

Yes

Mobile app?

Yes (see mendeley.com/#mobile)

iOS ; Android

Yes (see zotero.org/support/mobile)

iOS , Android

Updates

Updated on the Mendeley server.

Firefox checks by default for updates of extensions, including Zotero.

Export data to and from other citation management programs?

Yes

Yes

Direct export from databases?

Yes

Yes

Duplicate detection?

Yes

Yes

Extracts metadata from PDFs to create citations?

Yes; queries PubMed database for matches.

Yes; queries Google Scholar database for matches.

Creates in-text citations, footnotes and bibliographies in word processor?

Yes

Yes

Number of citation styles

Mendeley comes with 12 of the most popular styles, but allows easy download of other styles.

Zotero comes with 18 of the most popular styles, but more can be downloaded here.

Can the user edit or create citation styles?

Yes (using CSL Editor).

Yes (see tutorial)

Create bibliographies from citation library using a variety of data fields?

Basic keyword functionality for searching the citations library, as compared with Zotero.

You can search through your citations (only on the web version) using Publication, Author or Keywords/Tags.

Collaboration with other researchers

Create public and private groups. Automatic synchronization of collections among multiple computers. One private group of 3 members is free; see costs for private groups.

Create public and private groups. Automatic synchronization of collections among multiple computers.

Screen capture of web pages?

Yes

Yes

Information edited from: https://library.barnard.edu/find-books/guides/which-citation-tool

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