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With Zotero, Do You Need Other Fee-Based Online Tool?

August 21, 2009

I saw some stapled booklet in the department office. It said “It’s your best bibliography manager tool”. Hmm.. interesting. After browsing through the booklet, I thought, should one pay for using this online service to do most what Zotero can do without any charge?

This online service, WizFolio, contains three tools: WizAdd (grabbing data into your account), WizFolio (a web based reference manager), and WizCite (inserting bibliographic items into Word 2003 & Word 2007)

Here are WizFolio features:

  • No manual entry
  • Upload PDF
  • Import from Clipboard
  • Import from RIS
  • Locate PDF
  • Share with Colleagues

But aren’t they offered in Zotero too? Check out the features in Zotero:

You just need Firefox 3.x and then you’ll have a wonderful bibliographic tool in your desktop machine or a USB memory stick. You can try the 2.0 beta for more exciting features (online & group sharing etc).

I haven’t tried WizFolio so I cannot comment on the usage experiences, but based on what I read on the booklet, Zotero is better and you don’t need other fee-based bibliographic tools, either the online WizFolio or the desktop EndNote.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2009 10:15 pm

    It is not the functionalities but the way functionalities are implemented that is important in journal reference management software. In other words try it and judge the application by the user experience. Zotero is a very good application and it is free. Very good if you are doing arts and social science work. WizFolio is highly optimized for Life Sciences and Medicine. It is not free but the subscription fee is only $25 per year and this low fee is supplemented by unobtrusive ads. You get 5 Gb of file storage. WizFolio uses the latest Web 2.0 and except for cross domain issue like writing and accessing your harddrive, it otherwise behaves like a desktop application. Some of the things you can do in WizFolio that you cannot do in Zotero are:
    1. On the fly customization of Citation Style with instant preveiw.
    2. Import a list of references from your clipboard.
    3. Customize your folder icons
    4. Drag and drop to re-arrange your item list

    Disclosure: I am a founder of WizFolio

  2. August 24, 2009 8:59 pm

    Have you by any chance given Mendeley a try?

    It’s free, runs on Win, Mac or Linux and has both a Desktop and Web component which allows you to keep multiple computers sync’d and have your library of PDFs available wherever you have online access.

    There’s MS Word and OpenOffice plugins to allow you to easily insert citations into your documents with a couple clicks and get automagically generated bibliographies.
    I’m currently using it to write my dissertation and it’s definitely made me more productive and organized.

    Find out more about it here: http://www.mendeley.com

    I’d really like to read your thoughts about it. Let me know if you have any suggestions or ideas.

  3. Sebastian permalink
    September 2, 2009 9:17 am

    Ricardo –
    since you are promoting Mendeley all over the web:
    Mendeley and Zotero are relatively similar programs (Mendeley uses, for example, the same citation style language).
    Apart from the fact that Zotero is better in getting information in (and Mendeley seems to have some advantages in managing files, especially pdfs) the biggest difference is that Zotero is open source – i.e. free as in beer and as in speech.
    That matters (among other things), because Zotero will remain free while its features are expanded, whereas Mendeley will (and I quote from there website):
    “At a later point in time, we will expand upon the existing features and introduce additional ones for professional users – these will be available for a (very reasonable) fee.”

  4. September 3, 2009 1:04 am

    Hi Sebastian,

    Thanks for bringing this up. In fact, Mendeley is free and everything that is currently free will remain free, even when the premium features are added at a later stage. Only those interested in the premium features will be required to pay.

    Feel free (no pun intended) to contact me via email (ricardo.vidal[at]mendeley[dot]com) or twitter (@rvidal) if you have any questions, ideas or suggestions🙂

  5. Sebastian permalink
    September 3, 2009 3:08 am

    true, but my point is that chances are that Zotero will come up with similar features and they’ll stay free.

    That, and I believe that for these function an open sourced project is superior. Partly you’re already benefiting form that: What share of the available .csl styles have been created by Zotero and its users as compared to Mendeley😉.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that you’re using an open standard – but I think that having the whole thing open sourced is even better…

  6. Mark Sun permalink
    September 3, 2009 6:42 pm

    I agree with Sebastian that Mendeley is being promoted all over the web. Ricardo is one of several Mendeley “Community Liasons”, and presumably liasons are not volunteers. Since Mendeley is privately funded and intends to charge “professional users”, this makes anything that a paid promoter writes as advertisement. It would be disingenuous not to make full disclosure.

  7. September 3, 2009 10:57 pm

    Hi Mark, I’m glad you’ve noticed Mendeley being mentioned elsewhere. You’re probably reading the same interesting blogs that I am🙂

    On another note, let me first make a few things clear:
    I’ve never tried to hide the fact that I’m part of the Mendeley team, there’s even a blog post at Mendeley’s blog announcing it (http://www.mendeley.com/blog/academic-life/ricardo-vidal-joins-mendeley-as-community-liaison/). Also, if you look at the url linking to my username in these comments, it’s rather clear.

    I even ask for suggestions or questions most of the time in my comments in an effort to understand what the community would like to see in our software. So, I’d say it’s pretty clear.

    Besides that, I was a Mendeley user way before I joined as Community Liaison. Just visit my personal blog (http://my.biotechlife.net) and you’ll notice it. So I’m really interested in this topic of reference management software since it’s making my life easier as I write my dissertation.

    Finally, I do not wish to hijack this blog post’s comments with off-topic comments. If you’d like to chat, tweet or just keep in touch, you can find details at my personal blog (see above).

  8. Mark Sun permalink
    September 4, 2009 2:34 pm

    Hi Ricardo,

    The issue isn’t really whether or not someone can find out who you are via the web. The issue here in this discussion is that you posted a comment touting Mendeley rather than addressing whether there is a need for another fee-based reference manager now that we have Zotero. Since you made no denial, we can assume that Mendeley pays you to do certain activities, and it appears that your posts on the web are part of your activities as a “Community Liasion”. Perhaps “Paid Promoter” would be a more suitable title. I’d also point out that there are some people in the open source community who would object to Mendeley’s use of the word “community”. In my opinion, if my assumption is correct and you are a paid promoter, it follows that your comments in this and other posts, by definition, constitute advertisements for Mendeley. At least the poster from WizFolio defends his product in his post and promptly makes full disclosure rather than conveniently making the excuse that people can easily find out who he is on the web. Obviously, the casual reader of this blog wouldn’t realize these nuances and would be misled by your post. Just as obviously, there wasn’t anything wrong with your post *if* you had given full disclosure. Hopefully, this comment brings some clarity and perspective to your comments.

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