February 23, 2023 --

Simplify Your Research: Why You Need a Reference Manager

what is a reference manager? blog header

As a researcher in any space, the information and data that you ingest daily can be overwhelming. Even just organizing all of that information can be a challenge in and of itself. Between storing PDFs on your desktops, printing and annotating, and emailing version after version back and forth with peers and collaborators, it’s nearly impossible to keep it all together. What if you had one place where you could store, organize, annotate, and share all of your research literature? A reference manager would do the trick! In this blog, we’re taking a look at what a reference manager is and how it can help you in your research life.

Reference managers can make your research life so much easier. A reference manager is a tool or application that allows you to organize your existing research seamlessly. Typically, reference managers are desktop apps with a corresponding web interface that allows for both storage of local PDFs and documents from your desktop as well as enabling import directly from the web. 

Why should you use a reference manager?

A tool like this can really help a research or writing workflow  – with all of your references and documents in one place, you’re able to organize your extensive research library however you’d like. Create a shareable folder for a specific project. Tag PDFs by topic. The possibilities are endless and customizable to fit your research style.

In addition to organizing your literature, you’d also have the ability to read and annotate as you go. All of your notes and annotations can be automatically saved on the PDFs you’re working on. You can even share these PDFs and the notes you’ve made with peers and colleagues, making co-authoring works a breeze. Having a digital platform as your reference management tool as opposed to sharing printed PDFs, enables real-time collaboration with team members or advisors, saving valuable time and resources.

What About Citing My Findings?

Once you’ve collected, read, and annotated your references, you’re ready to export your findings. A reference manager will also serve as your citation engine. As you wrap up your research, you’re able to collate all of the references cited into one organized list in your required style for publication. Some reference managers, like Papers, offer plug-ins for word processing applications that can give you access to your references right next to your document, simplifying in-text citations, and even automatically generate a bibliography in whatever citation style you need to use. 

Instead of collecting a bunch of printed PDFs, or even saving version after version on your desktop, a reference manager can help you make sense of your research workflow. Save time and effort by creating an organized library that you can easily sort through and find exactly the resources you’re looking for. From organization to annotation, citation to dissertation, a reference management system, like Papers, will help make your research life seamless.