Go Get Zotero

Zotero is a marvelous bibliography-management tool. I started out tracking citations in Endnote but have migrated my entire bibliography from it to Zotero (there are easy-to-follow instructions on their website for how to do this). Zotero does everything Endnote does, and more, because it is web-aware. On library catalog sites and JSTOR, it is a matter of clicking a button to import a citation. It can be as easy as that on many other websites, like Amazon, but these sometimes require a little more handholding to get just right, especially those, like the Chronicle of Higher Education, that restrict some content to subscription holders.

In any case, in addition to bibliographic information, it also captures all the text from cited websites and pdfs, making them searchable, and gives users an option to download related files to a local drive when they’re available. I also like the ability to build links between related records and files, including images. So you could associate a HABS photograph, for example, with an article describing the building. There’s no excuse, additionally, for not annotating your bibliography extensively, since the Notes feature is so simple (and also searchable).

Finally, it’s just a nice piece of software. The interface is intuitive, and it works as advertised (though things can get a little tricky if your footnotes get out of sync with the database, so take care with deleting citations, and make sure you backup the db periodically).

I notice today that the tagline on the Zotero site reads “Citation management is only the beginning.” Zotero really does have the ability to be become (it is constantly in development) an all purpose information manager. Certainly it is a robust replacement, right now, for even the most sophisticated paper system.

The newest version of Endnote surely does most of these things, but the capper, no matter what, is that Zotero is FREE, and maintained by a devoted community of developers at George Mason (and elsewhere). I recommend it to everyone I know who works with footnotes.

You should go get it here.




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