Saturday, October 11, 2008


Zotero is an opensource software for citation management. That is, like it's proprietary counterparts, EndNote, ProCite, and RefWorks, Zotero is basically a database in which you can collect citations to articles, books, websites, etc. Once you've developed a collection of citations, you can export them in a bibliography which is automatically formatted in (almost) any citation style you can think of. Also like other citation management software, Zotero has a plug-in for use with MS Word (as well as an opensource word processor called OpenOffice, which I haven't tried yet) that allows you to automatically place citations into a document and develop a bibliography/reference list at the end of the doc).

But Zotero has some really cool features that (in my experience) go beyond it's proprietary counterparts. For instance, you can attach notes to your citations (e.g. notes from reading the article) and you can attach tags to them which allows you to then go back and organize and/or search for all of the citations with a particular tag. You can also create stand-alone notes (e.g. not linked to a citation). You can store a "snapchot" of the item represented by your citation, or store it on your harddrive and link to it from the Zotero record, OR store a full copy in Zotero. And you can link any combination of documents, snapshots, citations, and/or notes. Which gives Zotero some of the function of a qualitative data analysis software.

AND its portable! There's a web-based version in beta test but at the moment I'm using the other method for making Zotero portable: I've got a version of Portable Firefox loaded on a flash drive to which I've downloaded the Zotero plug-in (Zotero is basically a browser plug-in that only works in Firefox). Then I simply copied the citations, notes, etc. that I'd collected in the version of Zotero that's on my laptop hard drive to the flash drive and VOILA! portable citations.

Zotero is a seriously cool product. It's being opensource only adds to the coolness IMHO. It's too bad that the developers are being sued by the EndNote folks! [FMI see]

Monday, October 06, 2008

The randomness of literature reviews

Is doing a literature review as random for you as it seems to be for me? I'm doing an independent study course this fall that will result in a review of the literature related to informal scholarly communications and the changes that computer mediated communication will/may have. I did a round of searches from scratch and reading based on the results and am now chasing citations from that and conducting some more searches. I had hoped that by this time (six or seven weeks into the semester) that I'd feel more as if I was making some progress but I don't. I'm still finding new leads (and fearing that I've missed others) and reading what I can get my hands on. But here's where the randomness comes in: some of it I just plain can't get hold of, even interlibrary loan doesn't work. And so much of it seems to be 'grey literature', conference presentations, and other ephemeral type stuff. AND it's so interdisciplinary! I just found an article in a biology journal! Sigh. Maybe this is what I need to write up in my results?!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Research help

I need some help with some research I'm doing this semester. I'm trying to think of all of the possible forms of computer mediated communication there are. Computer mediated communication is exactly what it sounds like, any type of communication that can't occur without the use of a computer-based tool. Some that I've thought of are:

text messaging
doc sharing software (e.g.
combinations (e.g. Google Groups)
chat (text, voip, webcam)
web pages
listserves & discussion boards
social networks like Facebook

Can you think of any I've missed? Do you think that social bookmarking software/sites like delicious count as computer mediated communication?

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I am... a wife a daughter a sister/sister-in-law an aunt a reader a librarian a doctor a quilter a niece a grandmother ;-) a cat owner 6 feet 1 inches tall a yoga enthusiast a cook