Since grad school, I’ve been a fan of the bibliographic software EndNote. In the late 1990s, I had pretty much abandoned the card catalog for finding references, but I had yet to discover the rich, full-text databases that would later emerge. So I didn’t mind cutting and pasting authors’ names and other publication information into the EndNote fields.

Nowadays, most researchers conduct literature reviews exclusively on-line. If an article’s full-text does not appear on the web, I find myself questioning whether I really need that citation. Over the years, EndNote has added more web functionality with the ability to import fields and link to PDFs and URLs. Still, it remains a separate, proprietary system that sits on my hard drive.

I’m trying a new program called Zotero. It is a way of organizing citations directly within your browser. Because it’s integrated into the very frame in which you search for sources, it captures text easily and seamlessly. Citations can be tagged like blog posts and organized into collections. With some more setting up, you can access the bibliographies from a remote computer. And it’s free! I know there are a lot of competing software out there, but Zotero seems to have been designed by researchers for other researchers.

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14 Responses to “Zotero”

  1. Christopher Shanahan says:

    I am sure Zotero works well, but you may not be aware that BU has an institutional subscription with RefWorks http://burefworks.wordpress.com/. This is an extremely versatile web-base application that not only does everything that ENDNOTE can do but permits a group of resercher colloboarating in a field to share references and support each other. Best of all it is free.

  2. Peter Cahn says:

    I saw the RefWorks link on the library website when I first arrived. I was eager to try it, but found it a bit clunky to work with. I suppose its strength is in allowing collaboration on a single bibliography. Free is always good.

  3. Sebastian says:

    Apart from the fact that I’d consider Zotero overall superior, the problem with RefWorks is that as soon as you leave BU to an institution without subscription, you’re stuck paying for it.

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