Citavi – (Arguably) the Best Tool for Thesis or Dissertation Writing  (if you are a PC user)

Citavi is one of the best tools for writing a thesis or dissertation. It simply makes writing your thesis a by-product of your reading. It cannot get simpler than that! Few people in the UK/Ireland heard of it, however the software is not the new kid on the block. It was created 21 years ago and is widely used in Germany and Austria.


I used Citavi extensively both for my literature review and discussions (together about 50.000 words). Thanks to Citavi I had never lost track of my documents, books, websites, references, annotations and notes. Surprisingly, doing literature review and discussions with Citavi was a really pleasant part of my PhD.
Why do I recommend using Citavi for thesis/dissertation writing?
Firstly, Citavi is not only another reference manager. Importantly, it is also the knowledge organiser. It is crucial since organising references is NOT the biggest challenge students face when writing their theses or dissertations. The real pain is an efficient organisation of notes and references within the structure of the thesis/dissertation.
Surprisingly, most of universities in the UK ignore the issue of knowledge management. Instead they offer courses on e.g. RefWorks, EndNote or Zotero which admittedly facilitate academic writing but don’t solve the problem of managing thousands of notes and annotations.
Citavi offers a unique and reliable solution to this problem. It supports thesis/dissertation writing from the initial stages of research process, when resources are collected to more advanced stages of highlighting and organising notes in the structure of the document.
Within the reference manager you can search for resources you need to write your project. Citavi gives you an access to hundreds of search databases and catalogues (e.g. Elsevier, Pro­Quest). You can also drag and drop a folder of a file form your computer. Citavi automatically creates references for your documents using one of 6000 citation styles. Citavi has also a build-in tool (so-called Picker) to collect information from the Web. The Picker can be used with popular browsers (e.g. Chrome and Firefox). When you find an interesting website/PDF/picture the Picker saves them in Citavi and attaches appropriate references. It works like a charm. Citavi also looks for duplicates which is a very useful feature if you have collected thousands of documents.
The heart of Citavi is the knowledge organiser which allows to attach collected notes, citations, comments, thoughts, quotations within the structure of a thesis/dissertation. Without this feature writing a literature review would be a real nightmare.
The task planner, ​ on the other hand, allows you to assign tasks to specific PDFs, books etc. You are never going to forget to read or re-check your sources.
Finally Citavi allows you with one click  to compile a Microsoft Word file with the structure of your thesis, notes, citations and bibliography. It is nothing short of amazing!
Citavi has also add-ons for Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, LibreOffice and LaTeX. They allow to insert citations from Citavi without leaving the text processor.
The good news is that Citavi is is completely free for up to 100 references.  It is enough to write an assignment r or Masters thesis. However 100 references might be too limited if you write PhD thesis, unless you split your thesis in several projects. Citavi costs £95. I know that if I were to write my PhD thesis again, it would be the first piece of software I would buy. If you think that the price is rather prohibitive, you should have a look at Scrivener which I also used for my PhD thesis. Scrivener costs only $40. However, I would complement Scrivener with Zotero to create an excellent academic workflow.
The bad news is that Citavi does not work on Mac ( however you can install Windows on Mac)