Compare functionality

There is a lot of reference management software to choose from. The functionality of Paperpile, EndNote, Mendeley, Zotero and BibTeX is compared in the following table.

Functionality Paperpile EndNote (desktop and web) Mendeley Zotero BibTeX
Publisher / URL Paperpile/ paperpile.com Thomson Reuters / endnote.com Elsevier / mendeley.com Open source / zotero.org Open source / bibtex.org
Cost Free Free while at QUT, which has a site license for students and staff Free, but with limited functionality Free Free
Number of referencing styles Supports 7000+ plus upload custom styles from citationstyles.org 5000+ 1200+ 1000+ All those journals that use LaTeX have customised BibTeX style files
Can edit styles? Upload/create with CSL (Citation Style Language) citation style files Yes, built in Yes, but requires manual editing of CSL Yes, but requires manual editing of CSL Yes, by programming in .bst language
Direct import from databases Import from major databases, other product libraries and hard disk Simple to import records from most research databases Simple using the Mendeley browser plugin. However, the import doesn't work with as many databases as other products Yes, Firefox plugin takes citations from many popular databases, manual import using RIS/BiBTeX n/a
Word processing integration It is designed for integration with Google docs. Some problems have been noted with MS Word MS Word, OpenOffice, Mathematica, Pages, LaTeX through BibTeX MS Word, OpenOffice, BibTeX Works with Word and Open Office; also works with LaTeX through BibTeX. You can create a list of Works Cited for Google Docs LaTeX but can enable compatibility with MS Word via Bibshare
Smartphone and tablet support Yes, designed to sync and be used across devices. Mobile app currently not available EndNote Web and IOS app but limited Apps for Android and IOS but limited No No
Share libraries with other users A private link can be shared, Paperpile registration not required Share with 14 people, provided they are EndNote X7 users One group of 4 users Yes, can share references through public or private group libraries No
Cloud storage 15GB free cloud storage Unlimited 2 GB 300 MB 2 GB for anyone with .edu email
Annotate pdfs Yes, though currently in beta Yes Yes No No
Add comments Yes, though currently in beta Yes Yes Yes No
Full text indexed search n/a Yes No Yes n/a
Extract citation details from PDFs without embedded metadata Parses PDF for author, title and identifier (i.e. DOI) and searches other sources to complete details Yes Yes Yes No
Synchronise across computers Cloud-based, sync to any device
  • Synchronisation with EndNote Web and Desktop can be problematic especially if there are firewalls
  • Some issues with Dropbox
  • Synchronisation between Mendeley Desktop and Web works smoothly
  • Based on the cloud so synchronisation is fast and available from any computer
n/a
Strengths
  • No installation of software required
  • Cloud-based, syncs to Google drive so available on mobile devices
  • 15GB storage free
  • Industry standard in academic institutions
  • PDF file management and organisation features
  • Most options for customisation and formatting
  • Social aspect of publicly sharing libraries for developing bibliographies and altmetric data
  • Easy to share citations and documents with others
  • Free so can use after QUT
  • Good for managing a variety of formats especially web pages which can be captured with a click, annotated and noted
  • Downloads records from several databases that don't work with EndNote including Factiva, USPTO, Espacenet and FreePatentsOnline
  • Free so usable after QUT
  • A specialised tool primarily for users in science, maths and computing disciplines
  • Suitable for complex mathematical formulas, chemistry, engineering, multilingual typesetting, artwork, diagrams etc.
Weaknesses
  • Designed to integrate
  • with Google apps, Google sign-in required
  • Working with MS Word may be problematic
  • Some features still in development, may be quite buggy
  • Requires time to learn
  • Customisation is hard
  • Requires time to learn
  • Online use only
  • Duplicate references must be removed manually and records require more manual maintenance than other programs
  • Browser dependent on Firefox
  • Difficult to learn, Unsuitable for users who are not directly working in LaTeX
  • User support is limited to FAQs and membership of user forums
  • Not suited to Author, date citation styles