Starting a Secondary Source Tracking Database

Creative Commons licensed image posted at Flickr by Mark Crossfield

Creative Commons licensed image posted at Flickr by Mark Crossfield

If you know you will be researching the same general topic for years to come, you might want to start a long-term database to track your sources. EndNote, Zotero, and Mendeley are different source database tracking applications that also help with developing bibliographic citations. Once you start building a database of sources in one space, you will not want to switch later; it is critical that you take time up front to select wisely.


  1. Use the links below to briefly explore the three source database applications.
  2. Write a reflection of which database you might use and why.
  3. Share-out: Post a copy of your reflection as a reply.




29 thoughts on “Starting a Secondary Source Tracking Database

  1. Jamila O. Williams

    Database : Dental & Oral Sciences Source

    I found articles on different dental topics like dental materials, theories, legislation, and dental pathology. I found this database to be beneficial in the sense that it could assist me in my search for the statistics behind oral cancer studies, oral HPV, and education of the youth on oral HPV.

    Database: Health Source: Consumer Edition

    I found this article to be extremely beneficial in the sense that it allowed me to see how the population perceived the education on STDs and oral cancer. I would probably use both of these databases.

  2. Meredith Ellis

    Using the ODU Libraries page, the databases I searched included: going under the ‘Research by Guides Subject’ and then I clicked on ‘Counseling and Human Services’ and searched a few key words to look for different articles. After I searched under that database, I used the same links as above but instead of searching under ‘Counseling and Human Services’, I searched under ‘Dental Hygiene’. Both of these sources provided with me with a lot of articles that could be helpful with this paper. I found articles about tobacco cessation, attitudes towards tobacco cessation, counseling services for tobacco cessation, and beliefs about cessation. When I first began searching for articles I was not having much luck finding articles, but when I used the links on the libraries home page I was having much more success finding articles for this paper. For me, I think using the “Research by Guides Subject’ will be provide useful resources for this paper because when I searched keywords under this database I had many more resources come up compared to other databases I used before.

  3. Punit N Dave

    After review the three databases to track and record sources is have been made clear to me that end note is the preferable tool among the three. I have had previous experience with Endnote for many research papers and also having an in class demonstration make me more comfortable using it for articles and journal entries that I consider the hardest to cited, due to their own sources they needed to write the paper.

  4. Afshin Sedighian rasouli

    Endnote is my preferred data base. but sadly i am having a trouble downloading the program on mac OS, which i am hoping to get help from anyone who was able to download it from the ODU website. the Microsoft version of the software is easy to use. i wish i could have learned about this software freshman year.

  5. Aaron Van de Graaf

    After some looking around between the three (EndNote, Zotero, and Mendeley), I have come to the conclusion that EndNote is my preferred database. The main reason that I prefer EndNote over the other two is because of the simplicity. It seems that EndNote is easier to understand, in comparison to the other two. Besides the fact that I found EndNote to be simpler to use, it is the only database of the three that I have used before. So my opinion may be a little biased, since I am used to using EndNote.

  6. Davis Moore

    I would use EndNote out of the three source database applications. I already have EndNote through ODU and I have used it before so I already know the software. From looking into Zotero and Mendeley they both look like they would be able to do a sufficient job but I don’t see any features that make me want to switch from EndNote. However if ODU did not provide the EndNote software I would probably use Zoreo or Mendeley because they are both free. My second choice would be Mendeley because it seems to have slightly more features than Zotero and it better put together with a better User Interface. But overall I think EndNote is the best choice of the three.

  7. joshua mazzacua

    Reflection on “Starting a Secondary Source Tracking Database”
    I understand that keeping track of my information and keeping them organized will contribute to my success with any project I may have in my career. There are different programs available that will make tracking information and organizing easier. I am considering using End Note as a database for my project for several reasons. You can easily import PDF files into this database. There is also an option to automatically organize these PDF’s according to one’s preference. There is a key word search that can search through the database files according to the keyword desired. One of the biggest features of End Note is the ability to “Cite While You Write.” This option allows you to import citations into your word document as you write your paper and automatically create and update a bibliography at the end of the paper. End Note is compatible with Microsoft office and with Windows 8. Last but not least this software is available for free the ODU students and I want to take advantage of the opportunity.

  8. Devin Samples-Wright

    After looking into each data organization service, I have come to the conclusion that Mendeley is the right one for me. Each of the services does the exact same thing, but Mendeley has an android companion app, so I can use it easily with my tablet. Also, I could share my source list with my group members for Mendeley, even if they are using Endnote. This makes Mendeley the best fit for me, personally.

  9. Yacine Badis

    After taking some time to review the three available source database applications, I believe I will be more comfortable using EndNote for multiple reasons; it is not only the application I am most familiar with but on top of that we received a short in-class training about it. It is freely available for students and offers some very helpful functionalities such as connectability to Microsoft word which makes it much more efficient and easy to use.

  10. Chris Caracciolo

    Out of the three choices for citing software, the best choice for me would be Endnote. After looking at the other two it would seem like they are all very similar so I choose endnote because I have some experience with it. Having to learn the new software that would basically be doing the same operations seems like a waste of time. Also ODU recommended Endnote over Zotero and Mendeley so that pushed me towards Endnote even more. Lastly I really like how Endnote works with Microsoft word with the cite-while-you-write program to make citing even simpler. Overall it seems like Endnote would be the best option available right now

  11. Ryan Atkinson

    After reviewing all three source databases my decision was simple, Endnote. I was partial to Endnote because of the inclass tutorial before this assignment. However, the ease of the database functions would have still sold me in the end. The most helpful tool is the cite while you write option. With IEEE citing the sources will be numbered so to be able to add sources and move sources without having to renumber the sources is very helpful. Also, the ability to transfer journal articles from the ODU Databases directly into Endnote and have them be perfectly cited is extremely useful and convienient. The overall flow of the Endnote “process”, from ODU Library, to Endote, and then to Microsoft Word, is by far the main reason i will be using Endnote for future writing projects.

  12. Shauna Richards

    After exploring the three options for a source database (EndNote, Zotero, or Mendeley ), I believe that EndNote will be my preferred method. Aside from the ease of keeping track of citations that EndNote allows for, as well as the ability to share information with others, we were also given a tutorial in class, which allowed me to have a better understanding of the software as well as providing me with some useful tips that I would not have been aware of as a first time user of EndNote

  13. Kwabena

    After reviewing all of the following databases, I have come to the conclusion that they all do pretty much the same thing. All of these databases can upload, fill, cite, and create fills for later use. The data base that I will be using this semester is endnote. Endnote is user friendly and as an old dominion university student, free access is granted. At any given point in time where question may arise, the friendly librarians will be there to assist and relieve the stress of having to search for the solution. I had never heard of any of the other databases until signing up for learning to learn and feel as if tackling them without any assistance from someone who has knowledge on them at hand, will be too time consuming. In our current statics as senior mechanical engineering students, time is a huge factor to be concerned about.

  14. Lloyd

    Of the three sites I found Endnote to be the best site. The system was very user friendly with a quick and easy means of taking all the sources one finds and uploading them into Microsoft word. Also, the program being free to ODU students is a key factor.

  15. Biram Diop

    After exploring the given database applications, it seems that they all have the same capabilities. However I will be using EndNote because I’ve already had training in it and found it very user friendly. It has been recommended by the ODU staff, and is freely available to me as an ODU student. I’m already used to EndNote, and haven’t had any issues with it so far; I can always ask the help of an ODU librarian should any issue arise.

  16. Robert King

    I actually have a strong preference for Mendeley, which goes against the grain of most of the respondents. I chose Mendeley for some very specific reasons: the first being that the Mendeley application from the Apple market was completely free, versus the cost of having of the EndNote application (which I did not enjoy using whatsoever). The EndNote mobile site is also completely awful, and since I use my iPad as my primary computing device for doing research and other academic work, I cannot comfortably use something that does not work well on the platform. The navigation on Mendeley’s website is well thought out and executed. The mobile application is incredibly simple and easy to use.

    The second reason is that Mendeley has a feature for Safari mobile (the default browser that is supplied by Apple) that will automatically attempt to gather citation information from pages when I use a specially designed bookmarking widget that they created to accompany the mobile application. There were a few manual steps that I had to follow to enable it on mobile Safari, but the instructions they provided on their website were very clear. Video instructions were also included for every step that was required to enable the feature.

    The third reason is that I have found Mendeley’s website to be as feature-full as EndNote’s in terms of producing a capability to create annotations.

    The downside would probably be a lack of systematic integration with office suite programs. Taking into account the way I have worked on papers before, I am not really affected by this in the least. While EndNote provides a strong feature set, I desire simple execution of the most important tasks that I would need to use for research. I find EndNote to be overflowing with features, and the ability to use it on-the-go is extremely cumbersome and lacking.

  17. Jared Brooks

    The database I would use is Endnote. Zotero and Endnote both seem to have similar functions. One thing I noticed about Zotero is the ability to collaborate with others. Groups can share files with each other which would help greatly with organization. I chose to use Endnote because we had training on it last week and the staff at the library is more knowledgeable about Endnote. Endnote is also available to ODU student through the ODU library website.

  18. Matthew Vecerkauskas

    I would personally use EndNote. The tool is user friendly, and very easy to use with Microsoft Office Word. I do not have to pay for EndNote and downloading EndNote was a breeze. Writing in the sources is very easy and makes notation at the very end of the paper a cinch.

  19. Baraa M. Arab

    That database that I would be using throughout the semester is EndNote. The reason I am choosing EndNote, because we actually had the chance to train on how to use EndNote as the librarians demonstrated to us in class. EndNote is easy to download in few steps and it is free program for ODU student. With this application you would be able to use EndNote from home or any other computers at school. And allow you to share your information with other EndNote users.
    The best thing about EndNote is that you have the option of saving sources or articles into EndNote database library. Not to mention that you would have many citation sources to choose from any article you need. The most continent part I found in this EndNote application is saving a variety of articles into your Endnote account after viewing articles from ODU database library.

  20. Nghia Nguyen

    After researching all three different source database tracking application, I would use Endnote. Firstly, I like about Endnote application that is very accessible from ODU website. I was given tutorial by ODU librarian how to download and set up Endnote make it even less difficult. For example, if i am struggling how to use Endnote, I could easily ask ODU library staff. It also help me to organize PDF files easily such as import, rename, separate group of PDF files…. In addition, it has quick search figure which save me a lot of time. Endnote is also compatible with window Microsoft office. Another advantage of Endnote is “Cite while you write”. It allows me to copy citation i have saved in my Endnote to my paper while i am writing it. Finally, I would use Endnote for my school because of benefits above.

  21. Dareni Farrar

    The database that I believe will be best suited for any research is EndNote. I chose this database for a couple main reasons. The first reason is that, as long as I am a student, I can use EndNote anywhere on any computer via or simply logging in with my Midas account id for free. This makes life a lot easier when trying to figure out if the information you are trying to find will be available or if you have proper access to the articles. Another reason for selecting EndNote is this is the application I have been introduced to this semester upon starting research for classes. Library instruction was given on this referencing database, since ODU has licenses with EndNote, so I don’t have to waste time learning how to use the other databases. Since I am already trained and know how to use EndNote, the time needed to cite sources decreases. EndNote is the application that I began using, as well as the current research databases ODU has available to students, so this is the database that I will continue to use.

  22. Dustin Whiddon

    After comparing the three database tracking options, I feel that the option that would be best suited for this course is going to be Endnote. One of Endnotes drawbacks is the price, but since we get it free as students, it’s no longer an issue. I have already received instruction from the library staff on the basics of using Endnote, and it appears that the ODU library favors Endnote as well. This, combined with our teachers familiarity with Endnote, leaves it as the obvious choice, if for no other reason than the local support system. Zotero and Mendeley are very similar, with the main difference being Mendeley’s superior cross platform capabilities. I have no intentions of using either of these programs outside of my desktop or laptop, so while this is a handy feature, it’s not a selling point for me. I will be a beginner at using Endnote, so the fact that the majority of my classmates are using Endnote is a huge benefit for me. In addition, we will be having to work in groups, so it will make things easier if I am on the “same page” as my group mates.

  23. Patrick Smith

    The database I would prefer to use is EndNote. I would choose EndNote because we have had some training from the librarians and it is a user friendly software package. Endnote’s software is not dependent on a browser, unlike Zotero. This means that Endnote works much more quickly, which is an important consideration. It also has a built-in tool which allows you to track down the full text of your sources. Endnote also provides unlimited storage space, whereas Mendeley is capped at 2 GB & Zotero tops out at 300 MB. So for larger projects you would undoubtedly want to stay away from Zotero. Endnote provides professional technical support, whereas the other two rely on community forums for resolution of problems. If I’m in a bind with a deadline looming I would like to be able to get a problem resolved quickly. Waiting for other users to post on a message board is a shaky proposition at best.

  24. Andrew Miller

    I am interested in using either Zotero or Endnote. One benefit Zotero has over Endnote is the ability to share information in a personal library with groups. This could be useful in a team working environment, such as this class. Additionally, Zotero may be more efficient at collecting research data from the internet because of its ability to recognize content in a web browser. Other than these two differences, Endnote and Zotero seem very similar to the inexperienced user. However, there are two reasons I would be likely to pick Endnote over Zotero. The first reason is that I have had some instruction using Endnote and the second is that the library staff at O.D.U. is familiar with Endnote and will provide support if needed.

  25. Steven Garner

    Looking through the three provided source database applications, it is clear to me that using Endnote would benefit me the most. Not only on the basis of convenience, Endnote has several features that assists an engineering student like myself. It is easy to choose this since it has already been downloaded onto my computer and I have already had library instruction on Endnote. I believe I have a reasonable understanding of the system. The other factors that tilt the scales towards choosing Endnote include an option within Microsoft Word called “Cite While You Write.” While writing a paper, one can just go to the Endnote tab and copy a citation you have saved in your Endnote application and it will automatically copy it into your document. If you have multiple citations, it will even put them in alphabetical order for you. Another great thing about Endnote is that it works well with our library’s databases. The library has several databases for all subjects. Engineering has a database called Engineering Village where you can easily search for a source related to your topic and copy it over to Endnote. I will be using Endnote for all my research in this class because it is easy to use and is convenient for students.

  26. Dan Gregor

    After brief consideration, it would seem the best long term database of the three recommended for this assignment, would be EndNote. Although Zotero and Mendeley appear to be widely used and accepted, as well as free, EndNote was recommended by the Old Dominion University, (ODU) library staff and the class instructor. For this reason alone, EndNote seems to be the best choice. Use of the other programs may result in having to “strike out on your own” and limit the assistance that may be available.
    ODU library databases are geared specifically for EndNote, and EndNote appears to be created to interact with Microsoft products, namely, Internet Explorer and Word. Zotero makes use of the Firefox internet browser, for which is was created and is not as common as Explorer. Mendeley seems like a viable option, with mobile apps for those who would prefer that.
    In short, the local use of EndNote, and the ability to seek assistance from those local sources leads one to believe that EndNote is the most prudent long term database for this class.

  27. Edward Conley

    I will be using EndNote for my source database. EndNote is a great tool to manage citations and keep track references. It is very accessible and there is even an application for my iPad that I have downloaded that is synced with my laptop. EndNote training was given during class room time and I have already become familiar with software so I would not use Zotero or Mendeley. EndNote allows me to share my information with others. I have referenced papers before making my own citations it was time consuming and difficult to manage all the references. With EndNotes features I could have multiple references and be able to manage them share my work for review and access it from any computer. It allows me to import text files, pdf files and a built in cite while you write function. The ability to save articles from the ODU database and send them directly to my EndNote library is very convenient.

  28. David Mann

    The database I would most likely use is EndNote. One of the deciding factors for this is that EndNote is provided for free for all ODU engineering students. The downloading process has even been streamlined and a step-by-step download procedure is given so that students will have no problem downloading either the desktop or web browser version of EndNote. In fact, I have already taken the opportunity to download EndNote on my own laptop. After my class was given ODU library instruction on the use of EndNote and the library’s databases, I feel very comfortable using the software. For example, sources in Engineering Village (and engineering database available to ODU students) has the option to save a source right into an EndNote library. This takes all thinking out of the process as the software automatically fills fields such as title, author, volume, and even the abstract. Even manually entering a source is a quick and painless process since the software allows users to input information directly into the appropriate fields. After the information has been inputted into EndNote, the real draw of the program becomes apparent. EndNote has access to hundreds of different citation styles and can automatically reconfigure sources to match any of these styles. For example, EndNote allows me to use IEEE standard, which is used in the field of engineering. On top of this, an add-on for Microsoft Word comes bundled with EndNote. This add-on is known as ‘Cite While You Write’ and allows users to insert a citation directly into the paper through a simple click of a button. The Word document is linked to EndNote and keeps track of all citations placed in the paper. Users can even go back and insert a citation in between two other citations, without having to worry about fixing the order of the works cited. In summation, I will be using EndNote because it streamlines all steps of the researching process.

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