zotero: a free and easy way to keep track of sources

This entry is borrowed from fellow Idealist grad school blogger Laurie Moy, a mother of three and second-year masters student in the International Media Program at the American University in Washington, DC. Her fabulous blog “Mom goes to Grad School” is specifically geared towards students balancing motherhood and grad school. Her blog is filled with great info, such as this entry on Zotero:

Zotero is a FREE web browse application that is part of Firefox, and it’s like Christmas! You will never again have to type out your bibliography ! You will not have to have create a separate folder for all those sources that you save to your computer, and can’t remember which one you want to use and why. You can add a source to your list with just the click of your mouse!

Seriously, this thing is awesome. Maybe you’ve heard of Endnote- a software that does pretty much all of the things I’ve described. Its pretty popular and respected- in fact Google Scholar has a button next to its search result entries that will “add citation to Endnote.” The only problem is Endnote isn’t cheap.

There are some websites that will take your source information and format it for you (in MLA, APA, Chicago, etc) and that is nice. But you have to manually enter it, and one you are done, its lost forever- these don’t save your source list.

But Zotero is always there, keeping track of whatever you ask of it. And it “senses” when you are looking at a source and with just one click you can add all the source information to your list. You can add notes to each source (and then search those notes), you can organize your sources in any way that is helpful to you (I have a folder for each course, a folder for each paper/project within the course, and then any subcategories I might need within those projects). And, I just discovered an awesome feature- you can create a time line and sort your sources chronologically! This is such a great way to visualize what information was known about your topic and when it was known! AND, you can manipulate the time line to show only certain sources, times, etc.

Can you tell I’m excited?

I’m telling everyone I know about it- I love it! It has completely changed the way I do research. Well, I take that back- I’m still researching the same way, but now when it comes time to write my paper, I’m not spending hours sorting through index cards or pdf files on my desktop, and I’m not spending mind numbing time away from the kids formatting my bibliography!”

I agree with Laurie, Zotero is fabulous!

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2 Responses to “zotero: a free and easy way to keep track of sources”

  1. beyond pen and paper: academic referencing software « Says:

    […] I re-blogged a post on Zotero in October, and still think it’s a wonderful piece of referencing software. Just in case you […]

  2. beyond pen and paper: referencing software « Says:

    […] I re-blogged a post on Zotero in October, and still think it’s a wonderful piece of referencing software. Just in case you […]

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