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Zotero – how to manage your references more effectively

4 Aug, 10 | by BMJ

Like Endnote, Zotero is a bibliographic management tool. It works within your browser to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources. There are also Word and OpenOffice plugins which allow you to insert citations directly from your word processing software. This makes citing multiple pages, sources, or otherwise customising citations a breeze. In-text citations, footnotes and endnotes are all supported.

How does Zotero work?

On many major research websites such as digital libraries, PubMed, Google Scholar, Google Books, Amazon.com and now the BMJ journal websites, Zotero detects when a book, article, or other resource is being viewed and with a mouse click finds and saves the full reference information to a local file. If the source is an online article or web page, Zotero can optionally store a local copy of the source.

Users can then add notes, tags, and their own metadata through the in-browser interface. Selections of the local reference library data can later be exported as formatted bibliographies. Furthermore, all entries including bibliographic information and user-created rich-text memos of the selected articles can be summarized into an HTML report. Watch the video below for an overview of Zotero’s capabilities.

In addition to making the process of collecting references very simple, the iTunes–like interface of Zotero makes them extremely easy to organise. Drag and drop items between collections, or use the search feature to locate citations. Zotero offers a variety of methods so that you can organise and annotate your citations however you like.

With a simple plugin for Word or Open Office, Zotero lets you insert and manipulate your citations while you write. The software supports all major citation styles, and thousands of journal styles. You can also use it to generate quick bibliographies to share in email, blogs or anywhere else. For a thorough explanation of the Zotero Word plug-in, watch the following video:

How do I get started?

Everything you need to get started is listed below in three easy steps:

1. To run Zotero you will need use the Firefox Web Browser. If you do not already have it, you can download it for free here.
2. Once you have Firefox, then you can download the Zotero plug-in from here. This page also contains links to an orientation video and the Zotero quick start guide.
3. Finally, if you want to integrate Zotero with your word processor, you will need to download an additional plug-in here.

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