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Cowles Library


Citation Management Tools

Guide to help you choose, install, and use citation managers like Zotero, Mendeley, and EndNote Basic.

 Academic Writer

Academic Writer, formerly APA Style CENTRAL, is much more than a citation manager. For those researchers who use APA style, Academic Writer offers a suite of research and writing tools to help you through the paper writing process. However, this guide will only discuss Academic Writer's citation management features. There are a host of support documents on the Academic Writer site that will get you started with other functions.


  • Free to use, with Cowles Library's subscription to Academic Writer.
  • Managing references requires creating a free Academic Writer account.
  • Best for researchers who prefer or are required to use APA style, as other citation formats are not offered.
  • Includes more than 70 built-in reference types.
  • Works best with Chrome, Firefox, or Safari (Internet Explorer is not recommended).

Configuring Academic Writer

Academic Writer is web-based, so there is no client software or browser plugin to install. However, you'll need to create a free Academic Writer account in order to add and manage references, which just requires your name and email address. Go to the Academic Writer site and click Welcome > Login at the top of the page.

On the Log In screen, click "Create an account," fill in the required information and click Create Account.

That's it! You're ready to start adding citations to Academic Writer.

Adding Content to Academic Writer

To add new citations, log in to your Academic Writer account and click the Reference tab, then select Add References.

Create citations manually

  1. Under the Create tab, select the type of citation you want to add. Some types have a (+) next to them and can be expanded to show variations of that type.
  2. Move through the form and enter information in the fields. Required fields are marked with an asterisk (*).
  3. Click Add to my References to include the citation in your reference library, where you can further edit it if needed.

A question mark icon appears next to each field name. Click the icon to reveal more information about that field and to access a Quick Guide for that reference type.

Import Citations

Like other citation managers, Academic Writer can import RIS files of citations to add to your reference library. This is the best option when you have a large number of references from another source.

  1. Under the Import tab, select the source (e.g., EndNote, Mendeley, EBSCO) of your RIS file.
  2. Use the Browse... button to navigate to the file on your computer, then click Submit.
  3. Academic Writer will match each reference in the file to an APA Style reference type and import them into your reference library. Reference types that are not compatible with Academic Writer's style forms will not be imported. After import, Academic Writer will display a message indicating how many citations were successfully imported.

As with any citation import tool, you should carefully review the imported citations for accuracy and completeness.

Search for citations in PsycINFO

When you need to add a small number of references that are primarily from traditional sources in the social sciences (e.g., journal articles, books, dissertations), perhaps the quickest way to do so is Academic Writer's Search feature. This feature allows you to find and add references from PsycINFO, a database that contains more than 3 million records from around 2,500 journals.

  1. Under the Search tab, begin typing information from the citation you want to match. This can be an article title, an author name, or other keywords.
  2. In the result list, check the box next the citation(s) you want to add, and click the Add to My References button.
  3. For a more focused search, select Advanced Search to search within Author, Title, Abstract, and DOI fields.