For academicians, writing academic journals and scholarly publish them is highly required. In writing, academicians would need some apps that ease their work. In dealing with reference, the most common apps used are Zotero and Mendeley.
Both are great in handling reference. I myself use both of them installed on my Mac. After using them, I outline some points that you might considered.
For me, Zotero is superior than Mendeley in reading metadata. Although both allow you to paste the DOI (digital object identifier) or ISBN (international standard book number) to list your desired papers, Zotero reads metadata in a more accurate way. Mendeley sometimes fails in reading metadata of articles that I would like to list on my digital library. Therefore, I put the metadata - including title, authors, year, and etc. - manually.
Display and Feature
Both have almost the same features. Regarding the appearance, Mendeley looks more interesting. Feature that I mostly like from Mendeley is that it allows me to open and read every publication I have stored on my library without third-party application. Zotero also has the similar feature, but it needs PDF reader. If you want to read any article on your library, you should click the dropdown menu which is quite troublesome. However, it depends on your convenience.
Another thing that I do not really like from Zotero is the files repository which requires you to click some folders to reach them. It sometimes makes me difficult to remember in which folder a paper I want to cite is stored and it takes time.
Both are free and promise ease in handling your reference. I use both of them to handle the most important part of all my writings.