October 10, 2011, 11:00 am
I’ve used Zotero for four years or so, and it’s extraordinarily useful software for research. I’m not the only one at ProfHacker who likes Zotero. Alex recently wrote about Scanner for Zotero, Mark wrote about Zotero and Android, and Brian wrote a comparison of Zotero and Endnote. There are a great many more posts about Zotero in our archives.
But there is one thing about Zotero that has bothered me. The problem is that the most intuitive way to take notes on a source is to attach the note to the source. For example, see the screenshot below, where I have a summary and a few topical notes about one book.
This is all well and good for certain types of notes, such as summaries of books that I read for exams. It’s kind of like scribbling marginalia in a book. But this method is not so good for other types of notes, such as pieces of evidence or quotations. The problem is that…
October 7, 2011, 8:00 am
I tend to think about things in a very mechanical sense. I like making Linux scripts for repeated tasks, my routines are strict and emotionless, and when I usually spend time trying to figure out the most efficient way to do things before being able to move on it (which might be a post unto itself, but I digress).
These are some of the reasons why Zotero is such a useful tool: it allows me to organize lots of my web-based research in a machine grokkable (but also MLA compliant) list that can easily be imported into a paper or saved for future reference on Zotero proper.
This worked tremendously well for born-digital articles (and the existence of Zotero 3.0, with a plug-in for Chrome as well as a standalone version, makes me the happiest person in the tri-state area) but it faltered a little when it came to actual physical texts. This may sound like a first-world problem (and…
October 4, 2011, 11:00 am
It’s been years since I last used EndNote as my reference manager, but when I did, one of the features I appreciated most was its companion Palm app, allowing me to search, add to, and sync my EndNote library from my Palm Tungsten PDA (something else I haven’t used for years). Having all the sources in my citation library at my fingertips was incredibly useful, especially as I tracked down new sources at libraries and bookstores. Remember, this was in the days before ubiquitous wifi or smartphones.
Even now, there are many times when I need to look up a citation—or add a new one to my Zotero collection—and I don’t have ready access to a computer. What I needed was a Zotero app for my phone. I’m not the only one who wanted such a thing. Avram Lyon spent months “exhorting others to write clients for Zotero for platforms like Android and iOS” and when no one did, he wrote his own. …
August 29, 2011, 11:00 am
Last week the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media announced the release of a new beta of the standalone version of Zotero, an open source reference manager and ProfHacker favorite.
Zotero has long existed as an extension within Firefox, but since the release of the alpha standalone version in January, it’s been possible to more or less use Zotero with other browsers, such as Safari or Chrome, on any of the major platforms (Mac, Windows, Linux).
The new beta brings added features, greater stability, and—I can’t help noticing—a better icon. I’ve been using the standalone Zotero for the past few days, and I’m happy to say it’s been working quite well. Using the Chrome connectors, I’ve been able to save references from journal databases and the like as easily from Chrome as from Firefox.
I’ll update ProfHacker when I have a better feel for Zotero Standalone, but I…
May 5, 2011, 11:00 am
One of the most exciting developments with the research tool and citation manager Zotero is the push for Zotero Everywhere, a browser-independent version that we’ve already covered on ProfHacker. You can now use the alpha version of Standalone Zotero with Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer on any of the three major computing platforms: Windows, Mac, and Linux. But the one place you can’t use Zotero—and where I often need it most—is on the iPad.
It’s true that if you have a 3G iPad or a wifi connection, you can view your Zotero library from within Safari (provided you have enabled syncing). The web interface, however, is not searchable or optimized for a mobile experience. And plus, you have to be online to access it.
Enter Mendeley’s universal iPhone/iPad app. Mendeley is a research tool similar to Zotero (see our coverage of Mendeley for an introduction to the tool…
May 5, 2011, 8:00 am
Every now and again, you discover something really useful, quite by accident. That happened to me recently. I was browsing the web, and found something I needed to print out, but the site in question wasn’t particularly printer-friendly.
That didn’t pose any particular problem; getting rid of on-screen clutter, whether for reading or printing purposes, is why I installed Readability, after all.
It was what happened after I loaded the site in Readability that was interesting. The site wasn’t Zotero-compatible before. After I loaded it in Readability, it was.
April 27, 2011, 8:00 am
Jack Dougherty, a professor of educational studies at Trinity College in Hartford, has been working for the past couple of years on some fascinating collaborative writing projects. One is Writing History in the Digital Age, an open-review publication that reflects on the ways new writing technologies might change, or not, the most basic practice of historical research–writing. The other involves magic. That is, MAGIC, the Map and Geographic Information Center at UConn‘s library. Called On The Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and Its Suburbs, the project features, in addition to many other forms of scholarship, these crazy linked maps that juxtapose aerial photographs of Hartford’s historical development with contemporary Google Earth images. (Stay tuned this spring for a forthcoming guest post on this work!)
Dougherty realized that many people might…
April 15, 2011, 8:00 am
Back on March 22, Mozilla released Firefox 4. I was eager to give it a try, as I’d left Firefox 3 for Chrome very reluctantly.
Why did I leave Firefox in the first place? Mostly because it was becoming a resource hog, and was pretty slow. I’d routinely get the dreaded spinning beach ball while running it. I grew frustrated with it, and eventually switched to Chrome for all browsing needs that didn’t involve getting things into my Zotero library.
I found a lot to like about Chrome. It’s fast and it supports extensions–some of which are very handy for integrating an ereader into my workflow. But I really, really missed having Zotero live in my browser. All too often, I’d end up doing my research in Chrome because of its speed, then copying and pasting URLs into Firefox to move items to my Zotero library. That’s hardly an efficient way to work—though it was admittedly more…
February 15, 2011, 11:00 am
Several weeks ago Jason observed in his Weekend Reading that the folks at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University had released an alpha “standalone” version of Zotero. Zotero has long been a ProfHacker favorite, and many of us here and elsewhere were excited to be able, finally, to use Zotero without using Firefox, the browser for which Zotero was originally designed as an extension.
And Zotero Standalone is indeed standalone. It looks exactly like the regular Zotero, but running in a separate, resizable window. After installing the “connectors” you can even save items to Zotero from Chrome or Safari, using the familiar icons that appear in those browsers’ location bar (Chrome) or main toolbar (Safari).
The Zotero team has provided a thorough introduction to the standalone Zotero, so there’s no need to duplicate those instructions here. However, it’s worth…