I’ve been using Zotero for a while now. Rhonda pointed me to it a few years back and since then, I’ve been able to learn the finer points of cultivating a Zotero Bibliography. Instead of keeping copies of all the articles I’m reading for class, I’m collecting the citation, abstract, permanent link to the resource, and if available, the document itself. Zotero comes in handy, but it’s just like any other research organization method, if you don’t use it you lose it. Here are a few tips that keep my Zotero Library up-to-date and useful.
1) Create separate collections: You have the option to create several different ‘collections’ to organize your sources. You can even nest collections within a collection. If you’re wondering what the hell I mean by collection, think of it as a file folder used to organize research material. Right now I have collections for each class as well as one for each broad area of research that I’m pursuing.
2) Create an account at Zotero.org: Creating an account at Zotero.org will let you store your research on the web. It also allows you to syndicate your bibliographies via an RSS feed. I haven’t figured out how to make this work, but I’ve been a little bit busy lately.
3) Watch what information you collect: Pay attention to the type of information you collect when you hit that little file folder button. Sometimes websites and databases don’t automatically provide the info you want or will need to properly cite the source. By paying attention on the front end you can save yourself grief on the backend.
4) Use it: I’m a Google Chrome fanatic. I’ve been on the bandwagon for a while now. I even credit myself to starting the trend towards Chrome at my last corporate gig. That being said, I use Firefox when doing online research because Zotero integrates so very well with the oldie-but-goodie web browser. If you are sure to add your citations to the library, when it comes time to build your bibliography you’ll be made in the shade.
5) Share with others: Share your library with other people and let others share with you. You never know what avenue you might follow.
These are some basic ideas that have helped me use Zotero effectively in my research, and they are starting to pay off.