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Tools and Techniques for Engineering Teaching Assistants

Mendeley (and other software for citation management)

Mendeley is online software for use in citation management - that is, keeping your cited references (books, articles, etc.) organized and properly formatted so they can be included in your finished paper. 

Important features and things you need to know about Mendeley:

  • Mendeley has some important features that make it desirable in the sciences, such as the PDF management - drag/drop, adding notes, and highlighting of PDFs is enabled.  
  • The basic version is free - All of the features you as a student researcher will probably need are included in the basic download. However, premium add-ons are available that will give you more online storage space or which can enable you to collaborate and share your references with large numbers of other people. For groups you are restricted to 3 unless you are willing to pay for the premium version
  • There is a desktop client and a mobile app, both of them online-enabled - Once you've created a new account, you will probably want to download the desktop client to your personal computer. This will enable you to begin adding references and creating bibliographies in no time. You also can add Mendeley's app to your smartphone and/or tablet (the iOS version is here and Scholarley is Mendeley's unofficial Android app). All instances of Mendeley--client or app--keyed to a single user will share data, enabling you to access your citations anywhere.
  • It supports group work - You can share your citations and lists with up to 3 other users (sharing with more requires purchasing a premium add-on). 
  • Uploading is easy! - You can simply drag and drop a PDF of an article to Mendeley and it will automatically extract much of the necessary citation information from the text (we'd recommend that you review it to make sure it's correct though - author name, article name, etc.). 
  • Mendeley will format your citations for you in a variety of styles - MLA, APA, Chicago and a variety of other citation styles are supported.
  • You can do some searching within Mendeley - There is feature offering limited functionality for searching of select databases. However, we recommend that you use the Cornell University Library homepage and/or a specific database.

Want to learn more about different citation management software? Take a look at this chart (note that features of different programs change all the time; we do our best to keep our information current, but be sure to look at the documentation and websites for these programs themselves to be sure).



Zotero is a powerful, easy-to-use research tool that helps you gather, organize, and analyze citations and sources such as pdfs and Web sites, and then share the results of your research.

It's open source and free. It's one of a number of citation and information managers. (see Cornell Library's comparison chart)

See also this list of upcoming Zotero Workshops offered by the Cornell University Library.

Get a preview of our workshops and an introduction to Zotero by viewing a WebEx recording from 1/28/15 (52 min).

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