Researchers' And Medical Student' Experience in Reference Management Software in a Low-Income Country

Tunis Med. 2020 Jan;98(1):17-21.


Introduction: Although the use of Reference Management Software (RMS) is increasing in developed countries, they seem to be unknown and less used in low-income countries.

Aim: To discover the major trends in the use of RMS among researchers and Ph.D. students in Tunisia, as a low-income country.

Methods: A hardcopy survey was filled out by researchers and Ph.D. students during an educational seminar at the faculty of medicine of Sfax in 2016 with the aim to collect qualitative data to determine the participants' knowledge and use of RMS.

Results: The survey collected 121 participants, among them, 53.7% know RMS. Mendeley proved to be the best-known software (41.5%), followed by Zotero (35.3%) and Endnote (23%). Training sessions in RMS were taken by 5% of participants. Among the 121 participants, 26.5%of them use RMS., Mendeley was the most used (46.9%), followed by EndNote (28.1%) and Zotero (25%). The most commonly popular feature in RMS is inserting citations (66.9%). Therefore, the analysis, of the reasons behind the choice of RMS proves that the software was used because it is convenient (38.4%), most known (38.4%), easy (30.7%), or suggested by colleagues (30.7%). The free and open-source software was preferred by 81% of the participants. g. However, 50.4% ignore the fact that Zotero is free. Several types and sources of captured citations were unknown by 53.8% and 59% of the rest of the participants.

Conclusion: The results clearly show that the lack of awareness about RMS in Tunisia is due to the absence of a formal training. As a result, the need for such training is highly important for researchers to be able to benefit from the different advantages of RMS while conducting their academic medical education.

MeSH terms

  • Access to Information
  • Databases, Factual* / economics
  • Databases, Factual* / standards
  • Databases, Factual* / supply & distribution
  • Education, Medical / economics
  • Education, Medical / standards
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Information Management* / economics
  • Information Management* / education
  • Information Management* / methods
  • Information Management* / standards
  • Laboratory Personnel / economics
  • Laboratory Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data
  • Serial Publications / economics
  • Serial Publications / standards
  • Serial Publications / supply & distribution*
  • Software* / economics
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tunisia / epidemiology