What Is The Best Citation Software For Research Papers?

I was struck by the difficultly of finding what is the best citation / reference software to use for research papers. I have been a dedicated Endnote user since 2005 (it is now 2021), but sometimes I find the software rather ‘clunky’ and have always been interested in finding something better.

So, I decided to poll the R3ciprocity YouTube community, which is primarily made up of professors, PhDs, and graduate students, about “What is the citation software that they use?” 60 people responded. This is the biggest survey on the internet about citation software that I could find.

Keep in mind that this is a non-representative sample and there may be sample selection biases. For example, if the R3ciprocity community is skewed in age, that generation may prefer one kind.

Here are the results to the survey on what is the best citation software:

Mendeley is the best and most popular citation software for researchers.

The ‘other’ category was filled with LaTeX user software: Bibtex (MikTeX), Jabref, and Citavi. LaTex is nice, but I find I end up using Google Docs for the text anyway, and then transfer it to LaTex if need be.


I still am Endnote user. I suppose I am stuck in my ways, but there are switching costs in software. Every time you switch software, there are costs to learning the software. I had this problem when I switched to MacBook Pro from Microsoft.

I have figured out a way to make EndNote much less clunky. Here is the secret: Convert your file to a rich text document and use “Format Paper” function:

Tools >> Format Paper >> Format Paper…

If you create a rich text document, and run Endnote on that document using the Format Paper function, it works in about 1 minute. If you use the ‘cite while you write’ feature, it is a complete disaster. Avoid it. It used to take me 2 days to put the citations in the document, and often I would get corrupted codes. I used this feature for years. It was a bit crushing to take so long.

I would highly recommend not to use ‘cite while you write.’

Instead, I recently switched away from Microsoft Word and now create all of my papers in Google Docs. I LOVE Google Docs. I has a voice to text feature that is far superior than even the MacBook dictation (I switched to MacBook originally for this feature).

So create your research papers in Google Docs, then convert them to a rich text document, and then run EndNote on it. It works much better.

Recent Posts