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Citation Management Tools

Which citation manager should I use?

A citation manager is a software tool that can help you track and cite sources throughout your research process. Most citation management software offer similar features:

  • A way to collect, organize and take notes on your citations as you discover them
  • A way to share your citations with colleagues
  • A way to format and automate in-text citation in your papers

The three citation manager products discussed below—EndNote and Sciwheel—are very similar, and each can support extensive research. The products fall on a spectrum, with EndNote being somewhat more complicated but powerful, Zotero being simpler but more limited, and Sciwheel falling between the two, with most of the capabilities of EndNote while being free to UC Davis.


For the downloadable desktop versions, EndNote is the only one that requires a fee. The campus discount has expired, and individual licenses must be purchased. For information on how to do this, contact EndNote directly or librarian Matt Conner.

EndNote Basic (online) and Sciwheel products are free, but Zotero charges annual fees for optional increases in storage and groups. 

Security Considerations

Note that as of August 2021, Sciwheel has upgraded its MS Word plug-in to the 365 Office version. Because this version may pose an online security risk, you may need campus authorization to download it to your machine. If you find the download blocked, contact IT Express, and they will create a ticket to have the plug-in installed.

In Summary

Among these tools, Sciwheel stands out for several reasons. By virtue of the library subscription to the Faculty Opinions science database, all UC Davis campus members are eligible for a free account. Sciwheel is entirely cloud-based and has all the essential features of the other products, and it is the only one besides EndNote that has dedicated technical support. 

Citation Manager Comparison

FeaturesEndNoteEndNote OnlineZoteroSciwheel
Adding referencesMultiple methods, automatic and manualMultiple methods, automatic and manualMultiple methods, automatic and manualSome automatic
CapacityNo limit50,000 references. 2GB storage for all attachmentsNo limit on desktop. 300MB free cloud storage for attachmentsNo limit
Citing referencesInterface with MS Word, OpenOffice & LibreOffice. 6,000 output stylesInterface with MS Word. 6,000 output stylesInterface with MS Word, LibreOffice & Google Docs. 9,000 output stylesInterface with MS Word & Google Docs. 7,000 output styles
Cost$250 individual one-time purchaseFreeFree to download (charges for additional online storage)Free, as part of licensed Sciwheel resource
Full-text storageAutomatic import (not 100%). Can drag or attach files to recordCan attach files to recordCan drag or attach files to recordYes
Migration from EndNote Desktop Not applicableSyncExport .xml file
Export .xml file and import in via RIB, BIB & SML files format
Organizing FeaturesSorting, searching, tagging, groupsSorting, searching, tagging, groupsSorting, searching, tagging, groupsProjects (private or shared),
unsorted references
PDF annotationYesNoYesYes
PlatformWindows, MacWeb-basedWindows, Mac, LinuxWeb-based
Sync between desktop and webYesYes, if desktop version purchasedYesSciwheel’s lightweight desktop app is only for importing PDFs
Tech supportYesYesOnline forumEmail support
Web version availableYes: EndNote OnlinePlatform is web-basedYesPlatform is web-based