Thursday, November 15, 2012

Organizing Research Efforts With Zotero

Those of us reading these words live in a world where information is plentiful. Whatever your search is, finding something isn’t such a challenge. The many subscription resources available to students and faculty at the University of the District of Columbia Learning Resources Division will give thousands and thousands of results. Finding the right thing can be more difficult. Sometimes it can feel like a full-time job just keeping track of all the information you need for the many projects you are working on each semester.

There are tools that can help researchers and scholars with this. Zotero is a free plug-in for the Firefox browser (no others at this point, but Firefox is free too!). It does three important things. It helps you collect different kinds of citations from a variety of sources all in one place; it lets you organize and annotate those citations; and it works with your word processor to create references and bibliographies, all formatted according to the style you choose. There’s much more it can do, but those are just the top three.

Wherever you find it — whether in the library catalog, one of our many subscription databases, or on Amazon, YouTube, or somewhere else — the information can be collected and stored in Zotero and will be ready for you to use later in papers and projects so you can cite your sources appropriately. Notecards were a good idea, but they are so last century. Zotero does all that and much more.

The award-winning Zotero software was developed by the Center for New Media and History at George Mason University, one of our partners in the Washington Research Library Consortium.

There’s more information available, including video tutorials on using Zotero. As part of its information literacy services, the UDC Learning Resources Division offers instruction on Zotero. If you are interested in a session, please fill out our online form. We look forward to helping you move forward with this cutting-edge tool.

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