I frequently get asked by colleagues, friends, and family what apps (web, desktop, and mobile) I use to organize my work and life. So, I’m going to make a concerted effort here to blog a series on my personal and professional information management workflow. I say “workflow” instead of “system”, because no single tool meets my needs. It’s also an evolving workflow, because my toolbox and my process changes as new/better apps come out, or as new features and functionality are made available in current apps. And (sadly), it’s still a bit of a manual workflow, because these apps don’t always sync together in an automated process.
This second post continues to look at Zotero, the main tool I use to archive and organize my “professional” or “intellectual” research — the stuff I read, study, and save for more than just casual reading or interest. Stuff I might actually write or teach on, or even pursue in more depth were I to ever go after a Ph.D. or another Masters.
I have used Zotero for several years, so I forget and assume that it is still a relatively unknown tool among some of my professional networks and info management-minded friends. This is particularly true of my non-academic public history colleagues (museums, historical societies, small archives, etc.). So, in this post, I’m taking a step back and introducing Zotero before I do any further advanced Zotero posts.
“Zotero (pronounced “zoh-TAIR-oh”) is a Firefox addon that collects, manages, and cites research sources. It’s easy to use, lives in your web browser where you do your work, and best of all it’s free. Zotero allows you to attach PDFs, notes and images to your citations, organize them into collections for different projects, and create bibliographies using Word or OpenOffice.
Since it’s a Firefox plugin, it automatically updates itself periodically to work with new online sources and new bibliographic styles.”
— Source: Pollak Library, Zotero Library Guide.
This short video provides an excellent introduction to using Zotero.
There are a handful of ways to access and/or add to your Zotero library on your mobile devices:
- ZotPad: $9.99 for the iPad and iPhone (see ProfHacker’s review).
- Zandy: $3.99 Android app.
- Scanner for Zotero: $1.99 Android app.
- Mendeley Light: Free for the iPad or iPhone (if sync Zotero imports to Mendeley).
To learn more about specific tasks in Zotero, these excellent resources should help:
- Zotero Documentation, from the Zotero Support site.
- Zotero Guide, from the Pollak Library.
- Zotero articles, by ProfHacker.