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Biology: Citing Sources

Citation Management Tools

For large projects, such as capstone papers, theses, and dissertations, citation management software can be a useful investment of time, to keep citations to papers organized for later reference.  Good software will have both robust ways to input citations into an account, and ways to edit and help format citations into documents you are writing.  Several worthwhile citation management tools are listed below that are available either through subscription by the Libraries or free online.

For small projects where you are unlikely to ever need to use a citation more than once, citation software is typically of less benefit.  To help format bibliographic citations for papers and reference lists according to a standard style, simple tools like Son of Citation Machine are available online.


Zotero is a freeware option for bibliographic management software.  The software is an extension to the Chrome and Firefox browsers.  Your data is stored in the browser (and can now be stored to a server allowing for syncing between computers).

EndNote Web

EndNote Web is citation management software provided as a part of our OhioLink subscription to the Thomson ISI Web of Knowledge database suite.  For former users of RefWorks, EndNote Web has similar functionality, including a folder organization system for references, and a MS Word plug-in called Cite-While-You-Write for placing/formatting references within a document.  More information, tutorials, etc about EndNote Web is available within Web of Knowledge.


Mendeley is a free online reference manager with social networking features, that can help you organize your research, collaborate with others online, and discover the latest research.


When writing an academic paper it is usually critical to cite your sources.  Reproducing someone else's expression of an idea without giving them credit is considered plagiarism and academic dishonesty, and puts your academic status and reputation in jeopardy.

Fortunately, this is easy to avoid -- cite your sources!  As a general rule, if an idea or fact you are writing about was not familiar to you when you started your research, you should provide a source where the idea or fact was reported or discussed (preferably the original source).

Source types can commonly include journal articles, books, encyclopedia entries, as well as authoritative web sites and data sources, etc.  If unsure, check with a librarian and your course instructor to determine what is considered a proper source for your assignment.