======= Date Modified 25 Nov 2011 08:38:34 =======
Hello again everyone,

I was just curious, what is this Mendeley that people have talked about previously? Is it just like RefWorks or something?

Also, how many of you used a citation manager when you wrote your thesis? I haven't been so far, I've been doing it by hand (I'm writing all my chapters separately in different word documents then I plan to splice them all together at the end). I'm starting to wonder if I should use a citation manager because my methodology chapter had approx 50 references... so about 6 chapters.... roughly 300 references?! How many references is normal for a thesis?

Sorry lots of questions first thing in the morning, and on a Friday too....!:p

Edited to correct my awful spelling mistakes!

Avatar for sneaks

yes, use a reference manager! I have 35 pages of references for my thesis! and if your sup gets you to edit a paragraph, then you may need to take references in/out. Plus it can be difficult to track whether it should be 'et al' or not over all your chapters etc.

I use mendeley. TBH I preferred endnote, but that was expensive, and mendeley is free. I find it has a few bugs which are annoying, but it also has some great features - particularly the ability to read pdfs and highlight/write comments on them.


Yeah, use something for references. Doing it by hand is a massive waste of time. Endnote is the standard one, but I hate it because it was rubbish about 6 or 7 years ago and I haven't forgiven it (despite it no doubt being a lot better now). I therefore use Mendeley.

So long as you keep your references properly sorted then it takes pretty much all the pain away from referencing.

Slightly off topic, but why are you splicing the word documents together? I assume by this you mean you will end up with a massive word document? Big documents crash in Word quite easily, why not keep them as separate documents? That's what I was planning on doing when I get round to writing my thesis...


Thanks Sneaks and Screamingaddabs, eek I'm rusty on reference managers, does Mendeley come with a how to? Will it be easy enough to make it work now that I've already written a chapter?

Um, Screamingaddabs, I don't really know why I'm planning to put it all together in one document except for page numbers etc, as I'm no Word expert and I don't know how to make it work any other way, though I'm guessing there probably is a way to make the page numbers tie up even though they're in different documents?

What has made me really laugh writing this post is that I always put Word on my CV as a skill and it so obviously is not....!

Avatar for sneaks

my advice - write each chapter in a different word doc. only combine at the last possible minute. Then all you have to do is hit the 'refresh' button on mendeley and it should do all the sorting out automatically. Although I'm finding when you edit a reference, for example if I want to put e.g.

(e.g. Smith, 2010), rather than (Smith, 2010), it won't update the citation on any edits. So if it was (Smith, Jones & Wilson, 2002) and I changed it to (e.g. Smith, Jones & Wilson, 2002) - it will never go to (e.g. Smith et al 2002), because I've edited it, if that makes sense, whereas endnote did do that.


Page numbers can be easily sorted as there is a "start at" option so just choose the correct number. I'm not sure on references and other stuff though (I haven't written my thesis yet!) maybe combining will have to happen! As Sneaks says though, only combine right at the end. If you've been careful and used the "styles" and numbering systems properly it *should* just update everything perfectly!


Thank you both, I will have a play over the next couple of days and see how I get on! (up)

Avatar for sneaks

You really do have to combine, becuase at some point you need to send it to the printers, and I wouldn't trust any printers to get it all in the right order - even if you numbered it etc. they're bound (pardon the pun) to get it all messed up


This post has scared me a little bit, because I am doing all my references by hand, and I can't bear the thought of putting them all into Mendeley (I'm another one who's been burned by Endnote before and haven't yet forgiven it)... If it's mainly for the purposes of "et al"s and so on, I think I'll just suck it up if I miss one or two. I don't really trust software to correctly cite things. I know I'm a bit of an OCD perfectionist when it comes to citation, referencing etc, but I'm not sure I'm ready to change yet!

(And I'm also writing my PhD in lots of Word docs with the intention of only sticking them together at the very end, to sort out headings and ToCs etc, and the page numbering.)



I've used Endnote and Reference Manager when they've been available to me. I now use Mendeley because it's free. It's not bad. A little wonky in places and you have to be mindful of some errors that can creep in, but it's a very useful way of inserting citations, plus it has a number of other useful functions. Zotero is another free alternative.

Why anyone would willingly insert references by hand in this day and age is beyond me. Yes it requires effort to learn to use the software but it really is worth it. I don't want to have to renumber references when I swap paragraphs around or reformat references in different ways according to different journal requirements. Mendeley doesn't even require complicated importing - if you install the desktop version then dragging and dropping a pdf from your browser will work about 70% of the time.

Avatar for sneaks

Also, when you come to publish, a reference manager is amazing, because when Mr. hoity toity journal (that wanted APA referencing style) rejects you, and you want to send it to Mr. a little less hoity toity journal (that wants harvard referencing), then it literally is a click of a button.

Have we sold it to you yet? :p


Hi, you might also want to review the short thread (on this site) called 'LaTeX Versus MS Word And Referencing With Refworks' as this topic is in a similar vein.

I have used word for an MSc project and it was horrid! I have nearly committed to Latex which seems to be really suited to expansive documents. It would also work well for you splicing approach? Have a look at this link:

Good luck,



hehe Sneaks I enjoyed your post about the journals! I think I'm just a bit scared of reference managers, my university uses RefWorks and I've completely forgotten how to use it as they do the training at the start of your first year! They must realise that anything you learned then is forgotten by the end of your second year, tsk!


and p.s. off to look at Mendeley now...!


I'm the other way round to most people here... i use EndNote because i haven't forgiven Mendeley for crashing on me in my MEng dissertation! Hehe.

Though i do miss the "search pdf" feature of Mendeley. Sigh. I know you all say EndNote is expensive, but at my uni you can get a copy for £5 from the IT services people - you get a new licence for free each year. For £5 i find that having a commercially viable product means there is money involved in the development, which to me, makes it more stable. There are a few minor irritants with it though, i'll admit that. None of the available referencing solutions do everything i want of them!