Manage your paper/articles/thesis references with Zotero.

Zotero is a free and open-source add-on to Firefox, Chrome or Safari for managing your references within papers, articles or thesis. You may ask why is it in a browser. Good question. Hopefully it will be abundantly clear after you have finished reading this post.

Typically I go online to find articles. Either by search or a reference through another source. When I do Zotero can then save reference information your want with just one click. It will save the author, publication, volume, issue, pages, date, and other relevant information (and/or the PDF or webpage) in Firefox.

Once you have this information in your Zotero database you can then use it to automate that information into any Word document via an “add-in”. At the point where you want to enter a source you click the “insert citation” button and a pop-up box appears asking for the source. Click OK and it will be inserted there.

Once you have finished your paper at the reference section part of the paper click “insert bibliography” and everything will inserted with just one click.

I have used Zotero for over six years now and I have found it to be an indispensable tool. I cannot compare it to other similar products because I haven’t use any of the other similar software like EndNote. But I can say is it is an incredibly easy tool to use. I haven’t had to create from scratch a bibliography since. I used it for my Master’s thesis and it worked perfectly making my five-page bibliography section with literally one click.

Some personal practical advice

  1. Don’t save PDFs into Zotero. It slows down your entire Firefox browser as you can imagine how much information needs to be loaded each time it is started up. I recommend that you download it separately into your computer system.
  2. Check for errors and extraneous information in the references. I generally weed them out in the final draft of a paper. Once corrected you will never need to do it again for other papers.
  3. Back up your database by exporting your library. Do this regularly especially after extensive online research.

Where can I get Zotero?
You can download Zotero from its homepage. If you don’t already have Firefox then download that from here. The add-in for Microsoft Word can be found on the Zotero homepage as well.

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