Indian Journal of Medical Specialities

: 2022  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 231--235

Use of reference management software among Allopathy, Ayurveda, and Homeopathy practices

Ellora Barman1, Bhupen Barman2, Arvind Nune3, Arvind Nongpiur4,  
1 Department of Library, North Eastern Institute of Ayurveda and Homeopathy, Shillong, Meghalaya, India
2 Department of Medicine, North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of health and Medical sciences, Shillong, Meghalaya, India
3 Department of Rheumatologist and General Physician, Southport and Ormskirk NHS Trust, Southport, UK
4 Department of Psychiatry, North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, Shillong, Meghalaya, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Bhupen Barman
Department of Medicine, North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, Shillong, Meghalaya


Background: Reference management software (RMS) enable researchers to organize and manage large number of references that are typically identified during the publication of research articles. Aims and Objectives: The purpose of our study was to determine the extent to which faculties from allopathy, homeopathy, and Ayurveda use RMS for their academic pursuits and to identify which methods are used most frequently. Methods: The survey was circulated among the faculties of three different disciplines of the health-care system to collect respondent demographic details and questionnaire responses. Data distribution and variable type were used to perform descriptive analysis. Results: The data from 114/150 respondents were analyzed. Of the 114 faculties who responded to our survey, 72 (63%) reported using RMS to publish their articles. Knowledge of how to use RMS software is common in allopathic faculties (40%), followed by homeopathy (14%) and Ayurveda (9%). Zotero (41%) is the most popular RMS software among users, followed by Mendeley (31%) and Endnote (12%). Conclusion: Despite being underreported, RMS software is frequently used for the needs of authors from various disciplines in the health-care system.

How to cite this article:
Barman E, Barman B, Nune A, Nongpiur A. Use of reference management software among Allopathy, Ayurveda, and Homeopathy practices.Indian J Med Spec 2022;13:231-235

How to cite this URL:
Barman E, Barman B, Nune A, Nongpiur A. Use of reference management software among Allopathy, Ayurveda, and Homeopathy practices. Indian J Med Spec [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 2 ];13:231-235
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Full Text


The concept of reference management (RM) evolved from the publication of scientific literature. Initially, the work was done manually to cite the bibliography. RM tools (RMTs) were developed to make the researchers and publishers job easier. There is a plethora of RM software available, including Zotero, Mendeley, Endnote, RefWorks, and others. These referral management systems help organize the bibliography with a single click because different journals require the references in different formats such as Vancouver and american physiological association (APA). RM software (RMS) is defined as any software product used for storing and retrieving bibliographic records.[1] The primary purpose of citation management software is to store, organize, and format references within a manuscript. Proprietary citation management software packages have existed since the 1980 and are widely used today.[2] RMS products have evolved over time; some are available under commercial licenses, whereas others are free or open-source. RMS software such as Zotero, Mendeley, and Endnote were mentioned in the current survey.

This article examines RMS use in three health-care systems: allopathy, Ayurveda, and homeopathy. Allopathy is the most widely used modern medicine treatment system in the world. In contrast, Ayurveda is a traditional Indian health-care system, whereas homeopathy originated in Germany but has gained popularity in India as an alternative health-care system. Although RMS use was studied extensively in allopathy, its use was not evaluated among researchers in alternative medicine such as Ayurveda and homeopathy. The aim of this study was to evaluate the use and raise awareness of RMS among the academics in allopathy, Ayurveda, and homeopathy, who publish their research in their respective fields.


We developed a large self-reported e-survey to assess the use of various RMSs tools among the researchers from three disciplines: allopathy, Ayurveda, and homeopathy. The questionnaire was vetted by two experts from each discipline, pilot tested, and validated before being hosted on the Google Forms platform and circulated via E-mail and various social media platforms and online patient support groups. The data were retrieved on June 5, 2022, after two reminders at 2-week intervals. Descriptive analysis was performed based on data distribution and variable type.


Of the 150 researchers the survey was sent to, 114 (76%) responded. Out of 114 respondents, 66 (57.89%) were from modern medicine, 29 (25.44%) from homeopathy, and 19 (16.67%) from Ayurveda. The RMS was known to 63% (n = 72) of respondents, while 37% (n = 42) were not [Table 1]. Among the three disciplines, faculties from modern medicine were most likely to use the RMSs (40%, n = 46), followed by homeopathy (14%, n = 16) and Ayurveda system (9%, n = 10) [Figure 1].{Figure 1}{Table 1}

Despite widespread awareness and advantages of various RMSs, 8% of faculty used manual methods for publication citation, 70% believed referencing is a time-consuming task, and 97% agreed that the software can aid in referencing or citation management [Table 2] and [Figure 2].{Figure 2}{Table 2}

[Table 3] shows that the majority of respondents (89%; 98 out of 114) from all three fields wanted to learn more about the RMS, with 98% wanting awareness drives such as workshops or seminars to gain more technical knowledge.{Table 3}

Of the 77 faculty members who responded to the survey about their use of various RMT, 66 used any of the four popular tools mentioned in the survey, while 11 did not use any referencing tools. [Table 3] shows the percentage of researchers using the four most popular referencing tools mentioned in the survey. Zotero was used by 32 (41.56%) faculty members, followed by Mendeley (n = 24, 31.17%), Endnote (n = 9, 11.69%), and RefWorks (n = 1, 1.3%). Two professors (2.6%) mentioned using a tool that was not specified in the survey (one respondent listed Citethisforme and the other did not provide the name of the referencing tool used) [Figure 3].{Figure 3}

Sixty-four faculty members (56.14%) responded to our final open-ended survey question about their favorite RMS software and the reasons why they chose them over others. Nine respondents commented on the ease of use and overall advantage of their chosen tool. One respondent stated that “though RMS software are useful, they can be also tedious. The researchers also suggested that they tend to avoid them if the number of references in their study is not big. They preferred to use RMS for Systematic reviews.” Another faculty responded “I have attended a workshop on Zotero, and I started using this reference tool because it simplifies, organizes my references for my research.”


Many articles assessed RMS accuracy and their use by potential end users.[3],[4],[5] In a recent Greek article, they surveyed the postgraduate scholars at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki about the use of RMS. It was discovered that nearly 66% of them used RMS, with Mendeley being used by two-thirds of them.[6] A survey of researchers and PhD students in Tunisia, a low- and middle-income country, was conducted to assess their knowledge of RMS. According to the findings, only 53% of the survey population is aware of it, and proper training is required to enable them to use the software for improved academic performance.[7]

Another study was conducted regarding awareness and use of RMS among researchers at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Ghana, which found that while 80% of the researchers are aware of the RMS, 33% of them never use it, and they need technical support and formal training for better use.[8]

A survey was conducted among graduate students of the University of Manitoba to determine whether they use RMS, the features they are interested in, and the barriers and challenges they faced. The results revealed that the students are primarily interested in full-text searching of pdf, automatic renaming of pdf, and automated extraction of metadata from the pdf.[9]

Lonergan investigated the RMS preference among liberal arts faculty and discovered that more than 40% do not use RMS, with Zotero being the most popular software, despite the fact that the library supported option was RefWorks.[10] In Lisbon's study, the authors focused on multilingual researchers and how they avoided using RMS. They found over 65% of researchers preferred not to use RMS due to lack of usability and poor software reputation for multilingual support.[11]

The humanities and social science postgraduate students and academics in the Arts Faculty at Monash University revealed high usage of RMS (over 70%); however, RMS use was not consistent, as users tend to combine RMS with other software and, in some cases, a combination of digital and nondigital technologies. Endnote was the most popular program among RMS users and was supported by libraries (88%).[12]

Ram and Paul conducted a survey of RMS awareness and use among the library and information science (LIS) professionals in India. They identified that 30% of LIS-qualified librarians still struggle with the concept of citation styles, and half have no first-hand experience with any RMS.[13] The full text of systematic reviews indexed in ACP journal club from 2008 to 2011 was evaluated for a survey, where 79.5% of respondents indicated that they used RMS.[14]

Strengths and limitations

Ours is the first study to compare RMS use among academics practicing alternative medicine (Ayurveda and homeopathy) to modern medicine (allopathy). A limitation of the study is the small number of faculty members used for the comparison from Ayurveda and homeopathy.


Based on the findings of this study, we can conclude that, despite being underreported, RMS is frequently used for research purposes by the authors from various disciplines in the health-care system. Increased use of RMS may improve the reproducibility and quality of published literature. If formal training is provided, the tedious manual reference can be replaced by RMS to enhance research output, which is especially useful for clinicians with academic interests.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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