Do you know about Zotero?

By November 7, 2010Writing about Writing

As November rolls onward, DePaul University’s finals week approaches.  Those research paper due dates that were once safely tucked away on a calendar page far far away now require your immediate attention.  So why not start by getting organized with Zotero?

Zotero is an easy-to-install, easy-to-use web browser add-on created by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University to allow users to “collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources.”   I recently downloaded it into my own web browser, so have yet to discover all that Zotero has to offer, but so far: wow!  Not only will Zotero help you to build bibliographies in almost any kind of citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) but Zotero allows you to create folders to manage multiple sources and topics, attach documents and snapshots to your sources, and access your projects from multiple computers.  Furthermore, when you download the Zotero add-on into Microsoft Word or OpenOffice, Zotero can help you create appropriate in-text citations in the style of your choice.  Zotero even helps you keep your citations clean and valid, as only the sources you actually cite in-text will appear in your bibliography.

As with all citation tools, keep alert when citing your sources!  Double check your reference section to be sure that the citation format is correct and up-to-date.  Look for typos or other easy-to-miss mistakes. When inserting in-text citations, make sure you “suppress the author” only when appropriate (which Zotero allows you to do).  Perhaps the nicest thing about Zotero is that it allows the user to take control and easily correct the citations, so be sure to give your paper another glance or two.  And, of course, if you want an extra pair of eyes, schedule an appointment with us at the Writing Center. 🙂

Learn more about downloading and using Zotero at http://www.zotero.org/.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • although I’m guilty of using a bibliography-creating website every once in awhile, I wonder about the dangers of add-ons like this. Will writers use this in addition to style guides, or will it replace them? Will it make less inclined to look up the answers to their citation questions or will it make their citation process more efficient?

  • Mia Amélie Robidoux says:

    There is always that concern, isn’t there? I personally am of the opinion that bibliography applications will never *replace* style guides, rather, they will become a lovely addition to them. I mean, look at spell check or Microsoft Word’s auto-correct. We use this application with little to no concern. Spell check has become a part of the very fabric of how we write. Does this mean that we don’t feel the need to understand basic spelling and grammar or that we no longer need to closely examine both our own writing and the choices Microsoft Word makes for us? Not at all. Just as writers have a responsibility to be alert and critically examine our writing despite the convenience that spell checkers and auto-correcters offer, so do they have the responsibility to be alert when using other resources that make our writing process easier. There is no shame or guilt involved in using these application, unless, of course, we are not alert while using them. 🙂