Keeping track of your sources (and citing them properly) is an essential part of academic research. Citations help you avoid plagiarism and demonstrate to your professor and the academic community all of the work that you did to find credible sources. Academic writing is about building on the work of previous researchers, and your citations show that.
Citation managers are designed to help you keep information about your research organized, they're like iTunes for your research. They allow you to organize and retrieve the citations for books, articles, and Web sites that you've found. The citation manager then works with your word-processing software to insert formatted footnotes or citations into a paper and create a bibliography.
A citation manager allows you to:
Once you import a citation, you can:
There are lots of options for choosing a citation manager, and they have different strengths and weaknesses. On the "Choosing a citation manager" page we outline the strengths and weaknesses of several free options, but here we'll talk about some of the considerations you should think about when choosing: