If you’re looking for a way to organise all the information you find and research you do online, and you’ve had enough with bookmarking, copying and pasting, and cobbled-together techniques not cutting it, Zotero is a comprehensive information manager for Firefox.
Zotero is, at its heart, a citation manager. It was designed to facilitate research and to make organising and including that research in essays and publications pain free. As such it’s an excellent tool for any scholar, researcher or student to have in their toolbox. Its utility extends well beyond preparing to write a paper however as it allows you to grab nearly anything off the web and insert it into the Zotero system. The following video gives a quick overview of some of Zotero’s features:
If the overview video caught your interest, read on and check out some of the other great screencasts to see the individual features in action.
Getting Items in Zotero
Organising Your Research
Word Processor Compatibility and Citations
Although Zotero was built to facilitate researchers using Firefox and working on the web, the system — through the use of plugins — allows you to work in your favourite word processor using Zotero. They’ve made plugins for Microsoft Word, OpenOffice and NeoOffice — if word processor support is a deal breaker for you, make sure to check out their word processor compatibility chart. Check out the Word integration in the video below:
As the video shows, inserting citations and even changing them in-text is easy. You’re not just limited to citations in word processors however, you can drag and drop citations right out Zotero into any text box. Zotero comes with a built-in library of common citation formats like AMA, APA, Chicago Style, MLA — over a dozen by default. If that isn’t enough you can dip into the style repository and select from hundreds of alternative citations styles. On the rare chance you can’t find a citation style — and it would be rare! — you can hop over to the Zotero support forum and put in a request for it to be added to the archive.
Syncing Your Research and Files
Zotero is a complex yet easy to manage research tool. Fully intended for academic research you can use it outside of academia to manage your research on any topic from nearly any source on the web. Our overview here highlights some of the best features of Zotero but a quick browse through the support section on Zotero’s website will show you even more capabilities and innovative ways people are using Zotero to help wrestle with the enormous amount of information web-based research provides.
If you have experience with Zotero or just have a research tip or trick up your sleeve, let’s hear about it in the comments.