For the longest time, Mendeley has been a haven for researchers. The desktop and web program is a reference management tool doubling as a study-sharing platform for study papers.
Mendeley is also a social network that connects researchers, and what it does is automatically generates bibliographies for your papers. It also lets you collaborate with fellow researchers online.
With Mendeley, you can import papers from other research platforms and find relevant papers based on your readings.
You can access over 400 million documents on Mendeley, and if you are on the move, you can still access it through its iOS app downloadable to your iPhone or iPad.
While so many good things can be said about Mendeley, the platform started receiving a backlash when Elsevier, a renowned publishing firm, purchased it. The public outcry was due to the firm’s questionable reputation of involvement in restrictive publishing practices.
If you are one of the people looking for something new to move on to, my review of some of the best Mendeley alternatives is bound to be helpful to you.
Paperpile is a reference management tool like Mendeley that is clean, simple, and easy to use. Unlike Mendeley, a desktop and web program, Paperpile is entirely web-based.
The program removes the pain of managing academic literature by allowing you to conduct automatic PDF downloads, cite your sources in different referencing styles, and annotate PDFs.
Paperpile lets you sync your library across all devices and read and annotate on iPad, paper, iPhone, or Android devices.
Paperpile is fully integrated with the Google Apps system to enable you to write your papers and edit citations collaboratively in Google Docs. The tool also has a Chrome extension that integrates with various publisher research databases and websites.
The extension allows you to add papers to your library with a single click while ensuring you get accurate metadata. Its simple and intuitive interface saves you a lot of time as you need little learning to navigate the platform.
Unlike Mendeley, which has a storage limitation of 2GB of web storage and 500 MB each for personal shared storage on its free version, Paperpile has no storage limitation.
Once you sync the tool to your Google Drive, you can enjoy gigabytes of free storage from your Google account. With Paperpile, you can cite your papers in Microsoft Word or Google Docs and organize your papers using stars, folders, and labels.
Paperpile allows you to search your library in real-time. Another exciting feature of this tool is that you can highlight and comment on your PDFs. You can highlight important parts of your paper in different colors and print out beautiful summaries of your notes.
You can use private sharing links to share papers with everyone and not just Paperpile users and email papers directly to your Gmail contact list.
Paperpile is a paid software though it also has a free trial for testing plus a free Google Docs add-on. You can get a subscription (academic) for $2.99 per month or a multi-license for your group (business) for $9.99 per month.
Cite This for Me is one of the most popular citation management tools founded in 2010 to help students create flawless citations within a short time. Cite This For Me stands out from Mendeley because you can start citing immediately by clicking on their website or journal icon.
To even help you save more time while citing books, websites, and articles, the tool automatically finds reference information and goes ahead to fill out some forms for you.
There are high chances that your instructor has given you specific citation styles to use for your paper. MLA format, Harvard Referencing, and APA Citations are the most common styles.
The good news is that Cite This For Me supports thousands of citation styles, and you can get them in the navigation bar.
The tool goes beyond creating citations and references; the citation styles found on Cite This For Me have additional guidelines on paper formatting and in-text citations, among other details.
Using Chrome, you can make your citation better and easier using the Cite This For Me intuitive Chrome add-on. Click the Cite This For Me extension button whenever you are on a page you wish to cite.
You can export your bibliography or reference list by copy-pasting your citations from Cite This For Me to your paper, document, or project. To export your reference list to a Word document, you need to upgrade to premium.
Upgrade to Cite This For Me premium to enjoy an ad-free referencing experience, download your bibliography as a word document, and gain access to their plagiarism checker for $9.
Zotero is another excellent Mendeley alternative that allows you to organize your research in a way you like. Its makers call it a personal research assistant, which I believe is true. Zotero is the only reference management tool that detects research on the internet automatically.
Zotero will help you get an article from JSTOR, a news story from New York Times, a pre-print from ArXiv.org, or a book from the library.
With Zotero, you can organize items into collections and tag them with keywords. You can also create and automatically fill your saved searches with relevant materials as you progress with your work.
Its unique ability to automatically detect content on your browser lets you insert it into your library with a quick click. Another thing that makes Zotero stand out against Mendeley is that it is not limited to text only. Zotero supports images, video, audio, and snapshots, among other files.
Zotero allows you to instantly create bibliographies and references for any text editor, directly from Google Docs, Microsoft Word, and LibreOffice. The tool supports over 10,000 citation styles to enable you to format your work to match your preferred style guide and publication.
Zotero synchronizes your data optionally across different devices while seamlessly keeping your notes, files, and bibliographic records up to date.
You can also co-write a paper with a colleague, build a collaborative bibliography, and distribute course materials to students. The tool lets you share a Zotero library with as many people as you wish for free. So, rest easy as Zotero lets you stay in control of your data at all times.
Additionally, Zotero was developed by an independent non-profit organization with no financial interest in your private information.
Zotero is free to use and open-source. However, the tool lets you upgrade storage for your Zotero files to synchronize images, PDFs, and web snapshots, among other files.
Zotero offers free storage of up to 300MB so that you can upgrade to 2GB for $20 per year or 6GB for $60 per year, or unlimited storage at $120 per year.
EndNote is one of the best replacements for Mendeley that works best if you are interested in searching online publications and publication databases.
Like Mendeley, the tool accelerates your research process by helping you write faster, collaborate easily with other researchers across geographical boundaries, match your paper with relevant and reputable journals using their manuscript matcher, and stay organized.
EndNote allows you to edit referencing styles directly from the software. EndNote makes things easier; as with Mendeley editing is complicated since styles must be edited through their web application.
EndNote is a great platform that helps you manage references and bibliographies while writing articles and essays. The tool is available for Windows and Mac with the ability to export citation libraries in Rich Text Format, plain text, HTML, and XML.
Once you set up an account with EndNote, you can use EndNote Basic from any workstation with an internet connection, as you can access citations and bibliographies from anywhere.
The tool also allows you to organize, store, and manage references, including charts and figures, tables, images, and PDFs, all in one place. Its “cite while you write” feature starts creating the reference list as soon as you insert your first citation into your document.
It also adds an EndNote Tab to your Microsoft Word document to allow you to connect your paper and references in your EndNote library.
EndNote offers a free trial, after which you’ll be required to upgrade with a one-time purchase of $115.95 to access the tool fully.
BibDesk is an intuitive reference and bibliography management tool that helps you keep track of your bibliographic information and its associated links and files. Unlike Mendeley, a desktop and web program, BibDesk only aims at Mac.
The open-source tool offers a front-end for creating, editing, managing, and searching BibTex databases. The tool integrates with external databases such as the US Library of Congress, PubMed, and Web of Science, which makes it quite resourceful.
While BibDesk has been crafted to export in the BibTex format for LaTeX documents, it also can export citations formatted in different citation styles in plain text, HTML, RTF, and RSS.
The tool can also simplify using bibliographies in other applications and is particularly suited for LaTeX users.
The major drawback to BibDesk is its compatibility. While the tool is potent when combined with a LaTeX frontend like TeXShop, the feature does not work with any word processor.
BibDesk is free to use.
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Qiqqa is an open-source reference management tool that allows you to work with thousands of PDFs. This citation manager also works as a mind map brainstorming platform to help you with other writing tasks.
Like Mendeley, Qiqqa is cloud-based. With Qiqqa libraries, you can store, synchronize, or collaborate on your PDF documents with annotations, comments, and tags as an individual or a group. Researchers, academics, and businesses use Qiqqa.
Qiqqa allows you to search, read, and annotate your PDFs, after which you can review your work, write up, and instantly create bibliographies.
The tool integrates with Microsoft Word and BibTex/LaTeX to automatically produce bibliographies and citations in thousands of styles. When Qiqqa was first developed in 2009, it only offered PDF management and brainstorming capabilities.
With subsequent developments, the tool has features like a web library, integration with BibTex and other reference managers, OCR, and natural language processing techniques to guide your reading further.
While Qiqqa does not seem to have attracted a more extensive user base like Mendeley, it’s still one of the most advanced research management tools and an excellent option, mainly if you deal with many PDFs.
Qiqqa offers free access and free online storage of up to 2GB. You can upgrade to premium or premium+ at $6.67 per month and $41.67 per month, respectively, to access Qiqqa’s superior features and storage.
Premium+ is ideal for businesses and offers up to 50GB of online storage.
Papers is a Windows and Mac tool, which is excellent for finding citations and papers. Papers is made of a massive database of papers from around the world for you to search through.
The good thing about this platform is that it allows you to read papers on full screen, highlight and keep notes, and sync your entire library, including papers, notes, annotations, and lists, to all your devices, including your desktop, iPhone, or iPad, or the web.
Unlike Mendeley, which has a storage limit of 2GB, Papers offers unlimited cloud storage space for your growing library. The tool allows you to create private shared collections for collaboration with up to 30 other users at a time.
You can add your collaborator to your folder using their email. Papers is excellent for remote teams, journal clubs, lab collaborations, or for tackling an upcoming manuscript.
Papers helps you stay organized and say goodbye to desktop clutter. The tool automatically identifies and matches articles imported with the complete metadata and articles with supplemental data, citations, and full text.
With Papers, you can use tags, ratings, labels, file management, smart collections, and watch folders to help you stay organized as you write and read. Moreover, you can cite in word processors and share your papers with colleagues.
You can download Papers for a free 30-day trial. Beyond that, you’ll need to pay to continue using the tool. You can pay for their student package, often discounted at $3 per month. Other packages include Academic at $5 per month and Corporate at $10 per month.
JabRef is one of the most exciting reference management tools like Mendeley that helps you stay on top of your literature.
It provides an efficient way to collect, discover, and organize research and scholarly articles. The tool was founded in 2003 and has grown to be loved by researchers and students.
JabRef supports you in every step of your research by allowing you to import options from over 15 referencing formats, retrieve and link full-text articles, and import new references directly from your web browser with a single click.
JabRef is an open-source program written in Java and available for Linux, Windows, and Mac. The tool has a simple interface, and unlike Mendeley, JabRef has advanced grouping options to help you arrange your reference entries based on general search terms or keywords.
JabRef also lets you improve your bibliographic data by comparing it with curated online catalogs like Google Scholar, MathSciNet, and Springer.
You can automatically move or rename associated files following their customizable rules and add more metadata reference types and fields.
While organizing files on JabRef, you can group your research into hierarchical collections; organize your articles based on tags, keywords, manual assignments, or search terms. You can also track what you are reading through ranking, prioritizing, or printing.
JabRef is different from Mendeley as it uses BibTeX as its native format and is perfect for text-based typesetting systems like LaTeX and Markdown.
JabRef is free to use.
Another exciting alternative to Mendeley is CiteDrive. This cloud-based and collaborative reference manager provides a more straightforward way to collect and manage references for all your overleaf projects.
Unlike Mendeley, CiteDrive manages your references and bibliography in the native BibTeX format while offering seamless collaboration.
The tool is designed from the ground up and relentlessly focuses on being more than a referencing tool by helping you choose their inline search capabilities. You can use CiteDrive’s companion browser add-on to add references from Google Scholar or PubMed.
CiteDrive also lets you host an auto-updating “references.bib” for your project and integrate your CiteDrive projects with overleaf projects in a snap.
The tool was created to reduce the burden of managing references, especially for LaTeX and Markdown researchers. To date, CiteDrive still focuses on simplifying the process of citing and referencing as you write.
While the tool might have had a few failed experiments, its end solution, developed in the fall of 2021, has evolved into the excellent platform you enjoy today.
CiteDrive is free to download and use.
EasyBib is another Mendeley alternative that you’ll find exciting. EasyBib helps you create new citations and manage your existing projects. Unlike Mendeley, the tool allows you to scan your paper for plagiarism and grammatical errors to correct mistakes before submitting your work.
No matter the citation style you’ll be using, whether APA, Chicago, or MLA, EasyBib helps you create the right bibliography.
EasyBib is an intuitive platform. Aside from citation, this literacy platform offers note-taking and easy-to-use educational tools. The platform is accurate, comprehensive, fast, and effective in helping educators teach students how to become organized researchers.
Most of their citation styles are powered by CSL and citation style and language from citationstyles.org.
Unlike Mendeley, EasyBib is more of a spelling and grammar checker designed with high school and college students in mind.
However, its original purpose was to create bibliographies and work citations and has since proven to be an effective tool for writers of all skill levels and ages. The tool is easy to use once you sign up and gives excellent citation suggestions.
You can access the limited version of EasyBib for free. To enjoy its unlimited superior features, you can upgrade to EasyBib Plus for $9.95 per month.
Last on my list of Mendeley alternatives is RefWorks. RefWorks is a web-based tool that offers immense help in writing, collaborating, and online research. It also allows you to create databases to use for a variety of research activities.
RefWorks is centrally hosted, intuitive, and easy to access. You need no index cards while organizing your database as everything is done automatically.
RefWorks stands out against Mendeley thanks to its helpful tool called RefGrab. RefGrab was designed to capture bibliographic information from websites such as Google Scholar, Amazon, PubMed, Wikipedia, USA Today, BBC, Los Angeles Times, and New York Times.
The only setback to this tool is that RefGrab only works with Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers.
RefWorks saves you hours of typing and the tedious work of eliminating errors while creating bibliographies.
At the same time, its RSS feed reader helps you establish links to your favorite RSS and directly import data from these feeds to RefWorks. It’s easy to navigate through the platform, as it automatically creates the author, descriptor, and periodical indexes when importing files.
RefWorks is a paid platform and offers individual subscriptions for $70.00 per year. However, it provides a free trial for testing for 30 days.
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There you have it! Some of the best reference management options to choose from. All these options point towards the same thing, citation and referencing.
We believe that you’ll make the best choice from this review to meet your research needs.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.