Tech Tuesday: Zotero
We have all experienced the frustration associated with citing our sources on research papers, technical documents, and other projects. Even with citation tools such as EasyBib or Citation Machine, finding and locating the pertinent information for each source can be tedious and time consuming. That’s where Zotero comes in.
What is it?
Zotero is a Firefox, Chrome, or Safari plugin that automatically senses sources as you visit them in your browser. You can cite journal articles, books, powerpoint presentations, patents, and more–all with a single click. You can even share these sources, sync them with a dropbox account, or link the sources with a group.
The key advantage of Zotero over other citation tools is its longevity. When it comes to making a bibliography, most of us head to our favorite citation creator, type in a list of sources, and copy and paste into our word document. Zotero allows you to create a reusable library of resources. Any time you see a source you may use, you can add it to your libary–and when it comes time to create a bibliography, you can choose the sources that you ended up using. The important part is that the sources you did not use are still stored. Now, if you change your mind or end up researching a similar topic in the future, these sources are still there for your use.
The largest classification in Zotero is called a library; this consists of all of the resources you have ever recorded. However, the various levels of organization in Zotero are yet another facet of its usefulness. Your options include:
- Folders: Classifications of your sources. Each folder can be synced with Dropbox or shared with a particular group or person.
- Tags: Each source can be tagged with certain information. Then, you can organize your sources by tag.
- Notes: Each source can be annotated with information relevant to you and your library.
All of this content is searchable, and even if Zotero does not sense a particular resource, it is possible to right-click on any web page and store it.
Great! How do I start?
Head over to http://www.zotero.org to download the plugin. If you do not use Firefox, Chrome, of Safari, there is a standalone application available for Mac, Windows, and Linux. Once the plugin is installed, any time Zotero senses a citable resource, an icon will appear in your URL. Click it and that resource is added to your library. To see your library, double click on the Zotero icon on the bottom of your Browser. There, you can set up folders, tags, notes, and more.
Once you have all of your sources, select as many as you want to cite and right click to create a bibliography. Go forth and cite!
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