I just wanted to drop a line to share my experience today- I have spent the last four hours researching and testing the various source management tools out there, and I have to say that my classmate, Paula is my hero. She suggested Mendeley, and Mendeley won for me.
Here is my two cents (take it or leave it, obviously):
Zotero: A little over my head. The learning curve is steep, and the interface isn’t as user-friendly as I would like. When I tried to import my pdfs, they did not come with the source information. No app support. If you start fresh with Zotero, I think you will be very pleased. Everything is in the cloud, which is vital these days. For me, I had a ton of pdfs saved in Dropbox that I wanted to be able to drag and drop into whatever program I chose, and have that program recognize the files. I couldn’t figure out how to make Zotero do that seamlessly. You can create folders for different topics, which is good. If you are a Firefox user, Zotero might be the best choice. They have a plugin. I use Chrome, so it wasn’t a feature I would use.
Endnote: Not free. Expensive (which is even worse than not free). Not as user-friendly as the other options. I couldn’t figure out how to download the info I was looking for (although, according to their promo video, it IS possible). They do have a 30 day free trial, so you can try it for yourself. And they have cloud support and an app, which is good. I got frustrated with the desktop program, so I didn’t try those.
Mendeley: Free. Drag and drop and everything is there: the journal, issue, volume, pages, stable url, abstract- everything. Most of the time, at least. When it isn’t, you can search Google Scholar right from the record. If that doesn’t work, you have to do it manually. Out of the 200 I imported, I need to enter about 30 manually. The interface reminds me of Evernote Desktop, which makes it really user-friendly and idiot-proof, which is good for me. It has a little bookmarklet like Zotero, too- so when you are doing new research, it’s easy. I tried it, and it works. You can also create folders to keep things organized. App support is there, but reviews say it tends to crash. The one thing I wish I could do is annotate right in the app. It will let you highlight and annotate, but only on a computer. I don’t see that feature available in the app. I will say that so far, it hasn’t crashed on me. It’s in the cloud, so you can access it from anywhere, although, obviously the desktop version has many more features (true with Zotero as well).
So… there’s my opinion. Like I said, take it or leave it- but I thought it would be really sad if four hours of work was wasted on just me. 🙂 Obviously, no one thing can give you everything (why???). Mendeley had the most bang for the non-existent buck for me. Oh- there was one other one that might look good- qiqqa- BUT they don’t support Mac. Who does that anymore? And why do they all have red and white logos? Oh, dear, I need to go to bed. Four hours of researching research tools has gone to my head.