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Zotero – Next-Generation Research Tool

September 19, 2007

See it. Save it. Sort it. Search it. Cite it.

Zotero claims itself as the next-generation research tool, which can help you collect, manage, and cite your research resources. You don’t have to install a commerical ($$) software like EndNote or ReferenceManager. What you need are Firefox 2.0 and this Zotero extension (about 700 KB), and both are free!

Zotero reminds me of ScrapBook a little bit — a tool that let you save snippet of web page, add highlights and notes, and manage the collection. However, they are quite different. Zotero has strong point in reference management, and therefore is a great tool for scholars and students (well, I’ll say for anyone who works on some project and is in need to collect information). Here is the list of its features:

  • Automatic capture of citation information from web pages
  • Flexible notetaking
  • Playlist-like library organization (saved searches, collections, and tags)
  • Storage of PDFs, flies, images, links and whole web pages
  • Fast, as-you-type search through your collections (ie your library)
  • Formatted citation export
  • Integration with MS Word, OpenOffice Writer, WordPress

In the future version, Zotero will introduce server features

  • Remote library backup
  • Shared collections, notes etc
  • Groups for collaboration
  • Recommendations
  • Bibliographic feeds
  • More search and data mining tools, and import/export options

To really see how powerful this tool is, check out its tour and introduction demo. Quick-start guide is also very helpful to get familiar with this tool.

Since many people use Google for searching books or papers, and its online Office Suite*, here is an example to show you how Zotero integrates with Google services.

What’s more interesting is that in the latest version of Zotero, 1.0.0rc3, you generate timelines, based on MIT’s SIMILE Timeline, in a single click from any collection or saved search. 8)

By the way, the default storage location is inside Firefox profile. If you prefer not to store the database in C drive, as I do, you can change the file location in its Options/Advanced.

* PS: Google finally includes presentation tool into its Google Docs, although its features certainly cannot replace MS PowerPoint or OOo Impress. However, it’s good to see Google’s trying.

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