Managing references

So you don’t lose track.

Index cards in boxes are a thing of the past. And these days, just about nobody can manage a PhD thesis with a simple literature overview in Word or Excel. We recommend that you work with reference management software that ideally not only helps you keep track of what you have read and what you still need to look at, but also has a citation function. This way you avoid careless mistakes when citing your references.

There is a wide range of reference management and citation software. Not all programs are equally suitable for Windows, MacOS or Linux. Some of the most popular applications in Germany are listed below.

  • Citavi is a citation program designed exclusively for Windows. It is especially common in the sciences in German-speaking countries. Universities and colleges sometimes even offer tutorials on how to use Citavi and may have campus licences that have no usage restrictions (which is the case with the free version).

  • Unlike Citavi, Zotero works across platforms. It was initially designed as an extension for the Mozilla Firefox browser, but is now independent. Zotero is a free tool.

  • Mendeley works as a reference management program on various platforms and also offers a web interface. To be able to use the citation function, however, different plug-ins are required, depending on the operating system and word processing software.

  • EndNote is available for both Windows and MacOS. Source references can be inserted directly into Word or Pages by integrating them into these programs. In contrast to the other programs, EndNote is subject to a charge after a test phase.

By the way, if you want to write your thesis with the OpenD text editor, Mendeley and Zotero have been integrated into the OpenD online tool. You can also simply upload your references from Citavi and EndNote.