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How to Conduct a Literature Review (Health Sciences and Beyond)

Overview of how to get started writing a health sciences literature review.

What is Reference Management?

Reference management is when you use specific tools to help you organize the references you find during a lit review search.  On this page, we will present some video tutorials to get you started, a comparison chart of features from some popular reference managers, and questions to help you decide which one will work for you.

You can find more information on each reference management tool at the VCU Libraries Citation Tools guide.

Zotero logo

Zotero was developed initially at George Mason University and has gained popularity as a flexible reference manager.   All the information for learning Zotero is provided through their online documentation or their screencast tutorials.

EndNote Logo

EndNote is a popular reference management tool not available through VCU; if interested in using it, try EndNote Basic first to see if it's a good choice.  The company has great training materials on their EndNote Training channel.

Mendeley logo

Mendeley is both a reference manager and an academic social network.  A free account will provide you with 2GB of online storage; additional storage may be purchased for your account.  All you ever wanted to know about Mendeley can be found with their helpful online guides or by watching the Mendeley training videos.



Comparing Reference Managers

EndNote Mendeley Zotero
Cost EndNote Basic is free; Academic pricing for full version Free (Premium upgrades available) Free (Premium upgrades available)
Access Full -- Desktop; Basic -- EndNote Web Full -- Desktop; Basic -- Mendeley Web Full -- Desktop; Basic; Zotero Web
Major Reference Styles yes yes yes
Annotation of PDFs yes yes


(with Zotfile)

Link to articles with GetIt@VCU yes yes yes
Add a reference from a PDF no yes yes
Sharing options Create library to share with collaborators Groups Groups
Create citations and bibliographies while writing yes yes yes