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]

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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