An important part of writing research papers is organizing references and generating bibliographies. If not done correctly, it can be a real pain in the back. The last thing you would want after a strenuous writing task is a messy bibliography with missing or scrambled references. 

I have been there and I know how frustrating it is when you think you have finally nailed it only to discover a reference with missing page number or a publication date. Luckily, you do not have to go through the same problems. You can do it the right way from the start and avoid unwarranted stress.

Below are some good tools to help you keep track of your references and organize research sources. Each time you cite a source in your paper make sure to save it using one of the tools below. When your reference or bibliography list is ready you can easily export or copy and paste it right into your paper or document. 

1- Zotero

Zotero is a good free tool to help you organize your references. It allows you to save publication data from websites, journal articles, newspapers, PDFs, and more. ‘Zotero instantly creates references and bibliographies for any text editor, and directly inside Word, LibreOffice, and Google Docs. With support for over 10,000 citation styles, you can format your work to match any style guide or publication.’

Zotero also offers collaborative features that enable you to co-write papers with colleagues and build collaborative bibliographies. You can also share your Zotero library with as many collaborators as you want. Zotero is integrated with Word, LibreOffice, and Google Docs allowing you to easily manage citations as you write your research papers. Zotero also offers a ‘ built-in PDF reader that lets you mark up PDFs and then extract cited quotations and comments directly into notes or word processor documents. ‘

2- RefWorks

RefWorks allows you to save a wide variety of research materials including unlimited number of references and full text from any web page. It also helps you complete citation information using ProQuest databases. You can organize your data by folders and tags, annotate full text documents with highlights and comments, and sync your data to third party platforms such as Dropbox. 

RefWorks also enables you to work with others collaboratively. For instance, you can share folders with collaborators and work simultaneously on the same document, You can add comments and annotations in real-time. RefWorks can easily generate bibliographies and citations and insert them with a single click into Word and Google Docs. It also offers pre-built citation styles and a citation style editor that helps you generate the citation style of your choice.

3- Mendeley

Mendeley is another good tool to help you organize your references and save research sources. You can create your online library and start adding references directly from your browser or import them from any document on your desktop. Using Mendeley Cite you can seamlessly insert references and bibliographies into your Word documents without having Mendeley Desktop open or installed.

Mendeley Cite ‘opens as a separate panel in Word alongside your document window, not over it, so your whole document remains visible as you find, select and insert references’. It is compatible with Microsoft Office 356, Microsoft Word version 2016 and up and Microsoft Word app for iPad.

Mendeley Web Important is another tool from Mendeley that lets you import paper and documents directly into your reference library from search engines and academic databases. Other interesting features provided by Mendeley include Mendeley Groups which lets you share references and PDF full texts with your collaborators, Mendeley Reference Manager that helps store and organize all your references in a single place , Mendeley Notebook lets you collate all your highlights and notes from several PDFs, and many more.


EndNote offers a wide variety of features that helps you save and organize your research references. Some of these features include the ability to read and annotate PDFs, create rules to automatically organize references, use Manuscript Matcher to match papers with relevant journals, insert in-text citations while creating a bibliography using Cite While You Write feature in Microsoft Word, and more.

EndNote also offers collaborative features that enable you to share your reference library with others and provide them with permission access. EndNote works across multiple browsers and devices and you can use it to access your research anywhere, anytime.

5. Cite This for Me

Cite This for Me  helps you easily generate citations for different sources including websites, books, and journal articles. The tool supports popular citation formats such as MlA format, APA citation,  Harvard, and many more. Cite This for Me allows you to fill out citation information for each reference you include in your paper. 

It can also automatically detect the reference information and fill out the reference form for you. Once your bibliography or reference list is completed you can export or copy and paste it into your paper or document. Cite This for Me also offers a Chrome extension that allows you to automatically generation citations for web pages you visit. 

Cite This for Me offers a premium version which provides access to several helpful features including the ability to download  your bibliography as a Word Doc, access to plagiarism check, and more. 

6. Citefast

Citefast is a bibliography and citation generator that is available online and for free. You can use Citefast to create citations from multiple sources including webpages, books, journals, encyclopedia entries, magazines, social media posts, blog posts, dictionary entries, video, audio, movies, lecture notes, conferences, podcasts, dissertations, newspapers, and many more. Citefast also supports numerous citation styles including APA 6, APA 7, MLA 8, Chicago and more.

7. Mybib

Mybib is a free bibliography and citation generator. It allows you to generate formatted bibliographies, citations, and works cited from various sources including websites, books, journals, videos, blog posts, book chapters, conference papers, reports, journal articles, images, theses, ebooks, encyclopedia entries, movies, personal communications, maps, dictionary entries, and many more. Mybib supports hundreds of citation styles including APA 6 and 7, Chicago, Harvard and Harvard (Australia), MLA 8, MLA 9., among others.