3 August 2010

Zotero - not a 'Thing' to rush

I was really looking forward to this, having found EndNote so useful for keeping track of what I had read, and what I thought about articles when studying - so I approached Zotero with enthusiasm. First obstacle was "Download Zotero". I need to ask permission and get the IT Department to download anything. As my boss was away, the easiest way was to download it at home. That achieved - next I 'just' needed to discover how Zotero works. I've had a go capturing references from Newton, and to archive web-pages and pdfs, had a quick go at "dragging and dropping a citation, and created a quick bibliography.

 First impression is that it is an efficient bibliographic referencing system - which has a large range of features. I like the fact that it stores the pdfs etc., which are searchable, and one can therefore use the quotes etc later - but I can see that this could cause storage problems after a while. However I've not found it as intuitive as EndNote to use, and really feel I have only scratched the surface of it. I think this is an application that one can really only discover the full capabilities of with extensive use (using it for a purpose, rather than just 'having a go'), as only then will one really fully appreciate what it can do for you. I would be even happier with it if it were web-based, so one could easily use it wherever you want to access it from - in the course of a week I could easily be on 6 different computers!

Personally I can't see us using it in our library, although I can see its place in a departmental library. It will however be useful to have an understanding of it, to be able to answer student's queries, and as an alternative to EndNote for personal use. Setting up a group could also be useful for collaborative ventures.

  Still must get on - more to explore....now I wonder what Mendeley is like?


  1. I strongly recommend you give Zotero another try, maybe after doing a quick search to see what other users -- including librarians -- are saying about their experience with Zotero. Among other things, finding Zotero not "as intuitive as EndNote to use" is quite unusual... though you certainly are entitled to your own opinion, like anybody else.

  2. Hi Rusodepaso,

    I probably didn't make myself clear (the perils of blogging too late in the day) - I am still using it, and intend to keep on doing so - I just feel that it will take longer for me to get to grips with than EndNote did. I admit it probably helped when I started with EndNote that I was shown how it worked, and with Zotero I have been doing it by exploration of the software. The little video instruction sections are good for general background information, but I felt not as useful when you are in the middle of trying to achieve a particular action to work out what to do next. I have mastered the basics however I feel that I am probably missing a lot of what Zotero can do.

  3. You can 'synch' your Zotero library up to a web account (you need, of course, to register on the Zotero site, then hit the little green circular arrow at the top-right of the Zotero pane), and then you can use it from lots of different PCs.

    There's been *extended* discussion of Zotero vs Mendeley over on my blog at at Miss Crail if you're looking for some extra reading material on the subject!

  4. Thanks - will have a read :)

    Presumably you need to load Zotero on to each of the machines though?

  5. Yes, you do need Zotero on each machine.