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Reference Managers

What is a citation manager?

Reference management software can help you track, organize, and use citations for the sources you use in essays and other research projects. There are a variety of reference managers, each different features and learning curves. After you learn to use one, a reference manager is a big time-saver.

Most reference managers have features such as these:

  • Export references from many databases, search engines, and websites
  • Keep your references organized in separate folders for different projects
  • Format and create bibliographies
  • Share your references with others

The Coates Library offers two reference managers to Trinity University students, faculty, and staff: RefWorks and Papers. See below for more information.


RefWorks is a web-based reference manager. Trinity University users can click here to create a RefWorks account and get started.

RefWorks is a good choice for your first reference manager. Just sign in to RefWorks in one browser tab while doing your research in other tabs. Many library databases, search engines, and websites have the option to export citation information to RefWorks.

Quick help to get started:

For more information on RefWorks, see also the RefWorks and RefWorks: Write-N-Cite sections of this guide.


If you've used RefWorks for a while and want a reference manager with more features, try Papers. Papers is an installable reference manager primarily geared towards the sciences.

Papers works best if you use it's built-in search interface to directly download citations and PDFs from databases such as ACM, Google Scholar, JSTOR, IEEExplore, PubMed, Science Direct, and Scopus.

When using databases other than these, exporting references into Papers is a two-step process. If you regularly use other databases, it's probably easier to continue using RefWorks.

To get started with Papers, go to and download the demo version for Mac or Windows.

Quick help to get started:

If you plan to continue using Papers after the 30-day trail, simply activate the demo to get the full version, paid for by the Coates Library.

Note: The Coates Library provides licenses for Papers to Trinity University students, faculty, and staff as needed. Please do not activate the demo version unless you intend to continue using the software.

Also note: There is a separate, free version of Papers for iPads and iPhones available in the iOS App Store