Firstly you need to understand What Referencing is, How it can be done and Why it's needed.
Fundamental to the understanding of Referencing is the structure of a Citation and a Reference. A sound knowledge of this is compulsory before any Citation Management System (CMS) is used. A commonly held misconception is that a CMS will "do all of the work for you"
A Citation usually consists of an "in text" representation of an Information Source (Book, Book Chapter, Journal article, etc.) used within a body of text such as an essay. The way a citation will appear (eg: Smith, 2015) depends directly on the type of Referencing Style you are using eg. APA
These are a complete collection of Information Sources cited within your essay or document. These will usually take the form of a reference list at the end of the document or essay. The way this list appears depends on the Referencing Style you are using.
Elements of a Citation/Reference
All Citations and References, regardless of Source (Book or Journal Article) or Type (Print or Electronic) are comprised of various parts. At minimum these parts will be:
Author(s), Title and Year of publication.
The sort of information required in your Citation and Reference will also heavily depend on the Referencing Style (APA, Harvard, etc.) you are using.
In an increasingly electronic environment either the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) or the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) are required when recording information for electronic items (Webpages, Ebook, Online Journal Article, Online Report etc.)
For information on DOIs, such as how to use them and why they're needed in citations, see What are DOI's?
This Type of reference represents different physical sources (Print Books, Print Journal Articles etc.) and requires similar information to the Electronic source (except no URL or DOI).
Citation Management is a method of Collecting, Organising and Using Citations. This can be achieved by:
Option 2 is suggested when:
A CMS is a piece of proprietary software or a cloud based application that will make the process of Collecting, Organising and Using Citations easier .
Before you choose a CMS there are a few fundamentals that you will need to know.
NOTE: A CMS will construct references with the bibliographic information that you have collected. If the information is incorrect or incomplete then the resultant Reference and Citation will also be.
Each CMS comes with their own specific benefits and drawbacks. The major benefits common to all CMS Programs are:
There are many different programs to choose from and careful consideration is needed before choosing the right CMS for you.
Some things to consider when choosing a citation software program:
Below are four of the CMS that the UON Library suggests.
Each has been assessed for compatibility with UON systems, interoperability between CMS (eg: If you want to move your Zotero library to Endnote in future) and student types.
Zotero: for Undergraduate and Enabling students
Mendeley: for Undergraduates and Enabling students
EndNote Online: for Undergraduates and Enabling students
EndNote: for Academics, Research Assistants, PhD, Masters or Honours students.
Check the above information provided for each specific CMS to determine the best program.
See the Wikipedia page Comparison of Reference Management Software
This page compares the features, compatibility and interoperability of each CMS that is currently available
Also listed below, a few comparison sites from other Universities which may be helpful.