May 24, 2013, 11:00 am
The ProfHacker perennial favorite Zotero got a significant upgrade last month with the release of version 4.0. (You can see this page for all the ProfHacker coverage on Zotero.) The Zotero website has a blog post detailing what’s new in the upgrade, but here are a few of the features that I’ve found most useful.
First, Zotero now lets you select a few tags that can mark items with a special color. This might seem minor, but it’s actually a big improvement to usability. One of the things that Zotero has lacked is a way to clearly mark items as “to read” or “read.” While it’s always been possible to use tags for that purpose, the colors really make the items stand out.
Second, you can set up Zotero sync to download files as you use them, rather than downloading them all at once when you install Zotero. This feature is very useful for setting up new computers with Zotero….
April 15, 2013, 11:00 am
As has been widely reported, the reference manager Mendeley was recently purchased for roughly $69 million by Elsevier, the Dutch publishing behemoth. Though we often suggest Zotero as a way to organize and cite research material, we have favorably recommended Mendeley as well. I even used Mendeley’s iPad app until the Zotero-based Zotpad was released.
But now that Elsevier—whose business practices have raised concern from open access advocates—owns Mendeley, there has been a backlash against the free software program. Most notably, the prominent Internet researcher danah boyd announced she was quitting Mendeley.
For the moment let’s set aside the financial and scholarly implications of Mendeley’s new ownership and focus on purely practical matters. Are you switching from Mendeley? If so, we’re less interested in hearing why and more focused on how.
January 22, 2013, 10:30 am
Have you ever used Zotero to grab a citation from a library or journal database, only to have to retype the title of the article because it’s not capitalized correctly? Or maybe the article has a superfluous space before a colon that you have to manually edit out?
I don’t know about you, but dealing with these nagging little details takes some of the magic out of the otherwise automagical powers of Zotero. A while ago I tweeted my frustration with this problem and asked if there was some way Zotero could automatically reformat lowercase titles into proper title capitalization.
And guess what?
Sheila Brennan, the Associate Director of Public Projects at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (developers of Zotero), wrote back with this quick and useful tip: Right-click in the title field in Zotero and you’ll have an option to transform the text to the title case. This …
November 29, 2012, 11:00 am
The research organizer and reference manager Zotero is one of ProfHacker’s favorite tools. I’ve shown how ZotPad allows you to access your saved sources and PDFs on your iPad, but there’s one key functionality that ZotPad doesn’t (yet) provide: saving citations to Zotero from your iPad.
Enter the Zotero Bookmarklet.
The Zotero Bookmarklet can be added to almost any modern browser—including Safari on the iPad or iPhone—and it allows you to save a source to your Zotero library, as long as the Zotero web service recognizes that source. In other words, the Zotero Bookmarklet works well with common research databases, electronic journals, and new sources, while it’s not likely to recognize regular blogs and random websites.
Installation of bookmarklets on iOS browsers is tricky, but this is the essential process (adapted from the official Zotero documentation):
November 8, 2012, 8:00 am
In the past few months there has been a lot of attention paid to a Zotero plugin called Paper Machines.
Created by Brown grad student Chris Johnson-Roberson as a Google Summer of Code project, Paper machines was coded by Brown grad student Chris Johnson-Roberson, and Jo Guldi and Matthew Battles directed the project. Paper Machines uses the data in a Zotero collection to generate analyses and visualizations. If you have a sizeable collection of documents with good metadata and full text (for example, PDFs with text layers) then Paper Machines can run its analysis. The most basic output is a word cloud. More advanced analyses provide phrases matching a pattern, maps of place names, annotations of people, places, and organizations. Paper Machines can also perform topic modeling using MALLET.
I ran Paper Machines on the digitized primary sources for a chapter of my dissertation. I…
August 30, 2012, 11:00 am
The $9.99 ZotPad app lets you access your Zotero library on an iPad. When I first wrote about ZotPad on ProfHacker, I noted that the app was read-only. You could download PDFs attached to items in your library and open them in something like iAnnotate, as long as you were syncing your attachments with Zotero’s server—but you couldn’t send a newly annotated PDF back up to Zotero. Furthermore, if you sync your Zotero attachments with a WebDAV server (as I do) instead of Zotero’s server, you couldn’t access your attachments at all on ZotPad.
I’m delighted that the newest version of ZotPad has solved these two limitations: you can now access your Zotero attachments if you use WebDAV (and also if you store your Zotero library on DropBox), and regardless of which method you use to sync your Zotero files, you can upload annotated PDFs back up to Zotero.
Here’s a sample use-case…
February 16, 2012, 11:00 am
I’ve written about many developments in the Zotero ecosystem recently, but this is definitely the most hackish. How about setting up your own Zotero server, where you can access your Zotero references, PDF attachments, and even web snapshots from any browser on any computer. And how about being able to run this server on almost any web hosting service, including free ones?
That’s exactly what Christian Holz’s phpZoteroWebDAV 2.0 does. Holz’s program creates a PHP-based WebDav server, to which you can sync your Zotero attachments (e.g. PDFs associated with citations and snapshots of your Zoteroed pages). The program then uses Zotero’s API to pull in the citations themselves from your Zotero library, allowing you to view, browse, and search virtually every element of your Zotero library from your own server.
Why might you want to do this?
One of Zotero’s powerful features is it…
February 9, 2012, 3:00 pm
The research and reference manager Zotero is one of our favorite tools at ProfHacker, and there have been several recent developments worth mentioning to our readers.
Most notably, the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media has officially released Zotero 3.0. I reviewed a beta version of this so-called standalone Zotero back in August. Like the beta version, this latest release can run outside a browser. You can use connector plugins to add Zotero functionality to Chrome and Safari. (The original Firefox extension that started it all has also been updated to 3.0 and is as reliable as ever.) Aside from being browser-independent, two long awaited features of Zotero 3.0 include duplicate detection and a totally revamped, sleek new Microsoft Word and OpenOffice add-in.
Also, independent developer Mikko Rönkkö has released the first ever Zotero client for the iPad, called
November 15, 2011, 11:00 am
If it seems like we’ve been on a Zotero kick here on ProfHacker lately, it’s because, well, we have. Now that Zotero has an open API that developers can tap into, the Zotero ecosystem is growing in exciting ways. Today I want to introduce a small app that doesn’t require API access yet can really speed up how you use this Zotero: the free and open-source Qnotero.
Developed by Sebastiaan Mathôt, Qnotero runs in your Mac, Windows, or Linux system tray and provides lightning fast access to your Zotero references. Search by either title, name, or date, and a list of choices pops up faster than you can blink. The best part is, if there is a PDF attached to the reference, you can open that PDF in your default reader simply by clicking the PDF icon to the left of the reference. These two features—looking up references and then opening PDFs—are the only features of Qnotero, but the…
October 18, 2011, 11:00 am
We’ve been on a Zotero streak at ProfHacker lately, writing about the Android apps Zandy and Scanner for Zotero, as well as ideas for taking better notes in Zotero. If you regularly attach PDFs or other document file types (TXT, RTF, DOC, etc.) to your Zotero items, then here is one more Zotero tool you ought to be aware of: ZotFile.
Developed by Joscha Legewie, a Columbia graduate student, ZotFile is a Firefox (or Standalone Zotero) extension that enhances—or awesomifies, as I’ve discovered—Zotero’s native attachment handling. ZotFile makes it easy to add, rename, and move attachments (for example, ZotFile will automatically add your most recently downloaded PDF as an attachment, and you can set up all sorts of automatic renaming conventions). ZotFile Reader is a complementary extension that—and this is so cool—can quickly send PDFs from Zotero to your iPad or other tablet…