Academics, Productivity

Intellectual Dating: Citation Managers

After the horrors of writing my undergraduate honors thesis with mounds of unbounded stacks of printed articles, papers, and documents strewn around my home office and apartment in general, I swore by the time I started a PhD program, I would be paperless. As in all digital. This meant I must find and stick with a citation manager, which can also act as a dedicated reader. As I started to research what types of programs would be be a good fit, a wishlist of functionality grew:

  • Ability to fit into my search process for articles
  • Annotation capability
  • Sophisticated search function to search not only for articles, but within them as well as my annotations
  • Aesthetically pleasing organization of personal databases
  • Ability to sync across devices like my iPad
  • Citation compatibility with Scrivener

I tested out Zotero, Mendeley, EndNote, RefWorks, and Citavi. As much as I liked Citavi, in testing the program, I found out their patent did not extend to the US for citation compatibility with Scrivener. That in itself was not worth investing in a program that was made exclusively for Windows, which meant I installed Parallels to create compatibility with the Mac OS for the trial. A close second was Mendeley and though it worked well with Microsoft Word, it was not entirely compatible with Scrivener, which is my main drafting application for larger pieces of work. I finally came across Papers and though it is not perfect, it fit the bill for all my needs.

Quick overview of Papers

Quick overview of Papers

I will cover a thorough review of Papers in another post, but for now I will say I love their Magic Citation feature. It works seamlessly with Scrivener and after I compile my project into Microsoft Word, all my citations come through magically. As in effortless. I love it.

With a quick keyboard command, I can pull up Magic Citation in a floating window when I am writing in Scrivener (or any other word processing platform).


I simply search for the article I am citing and press enter. Papers then inserts the cite key into my draft, which I can manipulate using Bibtex or their citation modifiers to set the citation exactly how I would like.


Then, after I compile into a Word document, I can quickly format the whole document with a few clicks.


And before you know it, not only are the cite keys transformed into proper citations, but I also have a beautiful bibliography of references compiled for me at the end of my document in any style I desire. You can see here that it is currently in the Journal of Biological Chemistry where I typically use APA.


Papers may be downloaded and used across both Windows and Mac for a 30 day trial. The program may then be purchased at a student or faculty discount. What citation manager is currently part of your academic work flow? If you’ve tried Papers, please let me know your thoughts below!

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply