Academia

Comprehensive Comparison of Reference Managers: Mendeley vs. Zotero vs. Docear

Which one is the best reference management software? That's a question any student or researcher should think about quite carefully, because choosing the best reference manager may save lots of time and increase the quality of your work significantly. So, which reference manager is best? Zotero? Mendeley? Docear? ...? The answer is: "It depends", because different people have different needs. Actually, there is no such thing as the 'best' reference manager but only the reference manager that is best for you (even though some developers seem to believe that their tool is the only truly perfect one). In this Blog-post, we compare Zotero, Mendeley, and Docear and we hope that the comparison helps you to decide which of the reference managers is best for you. Of course, there are many other reference managers. Hopefully, we can include them in the comparison some day, but for now we only have time to compare the three. We really tried to do a fair comparison, based on a list of criteria that we consider important for reference management software. Of course, the criteria are subjectively selected, as are all criteria by all reviewers, and you might not agree with all of them. However, even if you disagree with our evaluation, you might find at least some new and interesting aspects as to evaluate reference management tools. You are very welcome to share your constructive criticism in the comments, as well as links to other reviews. In addition, it should be obvious that we - the developers of Docear - are somewhat biased. However, this comparison is most certainly more objective than those that Mendeley and other reference managers did ;-). Please note that we only compared about 50 high-level features and used a simple rating scheme in the summary table. Of course, a more comprehensive list of features and a more sophisticated rating scheme would have been nice, but this would have been too time consuming. So, consider this review as a rough guideline. If you feel that one of the mentioned features is particularly important to you, install the tools yourself, compare the features, and share your insights in the comments! Most importantly, please let us know when something we wrote is not correct. All reviewed reference tools offer lots of functions, and it might be that we missed one during our review. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="680"] Please note that the developers of all three tools constantly improve their tools and add new features. Therefore, the table might be not perfectly up-to-date. In addition, it's difficult to rate a particular functionality with only one out of three possible ratings (yes; no; partly). Therefore, we highly suggest to read the detailed review, which explains the rationale behind the ratings.[/caption] The  table above provides an overview of how Zotero, Mendeley, and Docear support you in various tasks, how open and free they are, etc. Details on the features and ratings are provided in the following sections. As already mentioned, if you notice a mistake in the evaluation (e.g. missed a key feature), please let us know in the comments.

Overview

[toc] If you don't want to read a lot, just jump to the summary We believe that a reference manager should offer more features than simple reference management. It should support you in (1) finding literature, (2) organizing and annotating literature, (3) drafting your papers, theses, books, assignments, etc., (4) managing your references (of course), and (5) writing your papers, theses, etc. Additionally, many - but not all - students and researchers might be interested in (6) socializing and collaboration, (7) note, task, and general information management, and (8) file management. Finally, we think it is important that a reference manager (9) is available for the major operating systems, (10) has an information management approach you like (tables, social tags, search, ...), and (11) is open, free, and sustainable (see also What makes a bad reference manager).

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By Joeran Beel, ago
Off-Topic

On the popularity of reference managers, and their rise and fall

This weekend, I had some spare time and I wondered which was the most popular reference manager (and how Docear is doing in comparison). So, I took a list of reference managers from Wikipedia, and checked some statistics on Alexa, Google Trends, and Google Keyword Planner. Since I had the data anyway, I thought I share it with you :-). Please note that this is a quick and dirty analysis. I cannot guarantee that there is not one or two reference managers missing (i just took the list from Wikipedia), and, of course, there are many alternatives to Alexa and Google for measuring the popularity of a reference manager. (more…)

By Joeran Beel, ago
Off-Topic

Which one is the best reference management software?

Update 2013-10-14: For a more serious analysis read What makes a bad reference manager? Update 2013-11-11: For some statistical data read On the popularity of reference managers, and their rise and fall Update 2014-01-15: For a detailed review, read Comprehensive Comparison of Reference Managers: Mendeley vs. Zotero vs. Docear <irony>Have you ever wondered what the best reference management software is? Well, today I found the answer on RefWorks' web site: The best reference manager is RefWorks! Look at the picture below. It might be a little bit confusing but we did the math: Refworks is best and beats EndNote, EndNote Web, Reference Manager, Zotero, and Mendeley in virtually all categories. [caption id="attachment_2683" align="aligncenter" width="354"]Comparison of reference management software - Refworks is the best reference manager Source: RefWorks[/caption] (more…)

By Joeran Beel, ago
Beta

Docear 1.0 Beta 5 with Zotero and much better PDF Reader support

Yesterday we released Beta 5 of Docear with two major improvements. First, Docear fully supports Zotero. That means as a Zotero user you can use Zotero as you are used to and work with the same PDF files and references in Docear. For instructions on setting up Docear for Zotero read our manual. Second, we strongly improved the support for many PDF readers. Annotations from http://www.cerience.com/products/reader RepliGo may be imported by Docear and PDF XChange Viewer (PDFXV) now is fully supported: Docear will automatically adjust the settings of PDFXV so that all kind of annotations (highlighted text, comments, bookmarks) may be imported. In addition, on first start of Docear, or when you install a new PDF reader, Docear lets you select your preferred reader and, if the reader supports this, automatically sets the right settings for the "jump-to-page" feature (i.e. the PDF will be opened on the page of an annotation). The screenshot shows the PDF-Reader selection dialog. It should list the following PDF readers (if installed on your system): Foxit Reader, Adobe Reader, PDF XChange Viewer, Skim, Preview. Adobe Acrobat Professional probably will be support in the next Beta. If on your system not all installed readers are displayed, please let us know. So, which PDF reader is the most recommendable? (more…)

By Joeran Beel, ago
Docear

Experimental Releases: Test the latest features of Docear

So far, rather few people try out our experimental versions. Therefore, I would like to use the chance making some advertisement for them :-). Before we release a new version on http://www.docear.org/software/download/we always release at least one experimental version (usually two or three).  They are not necessarily worse than the final releases. Usually, they contain many bug fixes, but often many new bugs, too. So, on average experimental versions are as buggy as the “normal” versions. But they have one big advantage – they contain new features. The current experimental version, for instance, supports Zotero’s BibTeX format. So, as a Zotero user you should definitely try out the new experimental version. Another major improvement is the PDF reader selection. Docear recognizes Adobe Read more…

By Joeran Beel, ago