Mendeley or Zotero, which one is right for you? These two tools are very similar, and, for the most part, they function in the same way. Both have basic versions that are available for free, but you can pay for additional storage (both) and the ability to create more private groups (Mendeley). For most people, the free basic versions are sufficient.
There are a few benefits and drawbacks to each that might make you more inclined to choose one over the other:
- 2 GB of cloud storage with free version
- Mendeley has a browser extension for Firefox and Chrome. For Internet Explorer and Safari, there is a "Save to Mendeley" bookmarklet that will need to be placed in your bookmarks toolbar.
- The browser extension/bookmarklet does not do a very good job of pulling data from webpages and web documents, so you may have to manually add a fair bit of citation data. It also is not good at pulling full-text from the web.
- Mendeley has a free mobile app for Android and Apple devices.
- Users of the free version can only create 1 private group with 3 group members. There is no limit to the number of public groups, but with public groups, you can only share reference information, not PDFs.
- 300 MB of cloud storage with free version
- Zotero has a Zotero Standalone desktop application that can connect with the Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera browsers if you install a plugin. For all other browsers, there is a bookmarklet that you can add.
- Zotero does a better job than Mendeley of pulling in website data. It also saves a snapshot of the page, which Mendeley does not do.
- Zotero is also able to pull full-text directly from library databases (like EBSCO) whereas with Mendeley you need to save the PDF to your desktop and drag it in.
- Zotero mobile apps are only available from third-party creators.
- Users of the free version can create an unlimited number of private groups.
Lastly, if you plan to take advantage of the private groups features of these tools, you’ll want to pick whichever one your colleagues are using.