Anna Douglas on Using Zotero for Free Reference Management

I’m Anna Douglas. I’m a doctoral candidate, working on my dissertation. I recently saw one of my officemates thumbing through stacks of printed articles, looking for one that she needed to reference back to in her writing. A few days later, my other officemate was searching through files on her computer, trying to locate an article. I thought, “I have to share Zotero with more people.” There is no need to keep track of physical or electronic files. Zotero has kept me organized and has saved me a considerable amount of time. No thumbing through stacks, and no searching through computer files, trying to remember what I saved it as. Zotero saves all the information I need and keeps it organized in an easily, accessible manner.

Rad Resource: Zotero is a free, open source, reference management software that is available for use with Firefox internet browser (which is also free). It stays in your browser and helps to collect, organize, cite, and share your references.

  • When looking at research articles, an icon pops up in the browser, indicating that Zotero could save the reference. To save the reference, just click on the icon.
  • Zotero can also take a snapshot of the page and pull out the reference information.
  • Zotero allows you to organize your research by creating folders to store the references. I label my folders by topic. When I need to refer back to an article, I just look under the appropriate heading and readily see the title of the articles and authors.
  • Zotero stores the location of the article, for quick access later on.
  • Each item saved has space to keep notes on in Zotero.

Rad Resource: Zotero has a plug-in that allows you to insert your references into your Word or Open Office document, both in-text citation and then when the draft is complete, sync for a reference list.

Hot Tip: You can choose the style for Zotero (ex: APA, MLA, etc.)

Hot Tip: You can create groups in Zotero to share your citations with research partners or colleagues.

Rad Resource: Purdue University’s awesome librarians have made a website devoted to how to use Zotero, with tutorials, including how to download Firefox.

Rad Resource: Purdue’s librarians have also created a website that compares citation management software.

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