Zotero Workshop

Zotero is the coolest thing I haven’t been using. I am so pumped I went to this workshop. I hate creating citations and bibliographies with a passion. Citation generators are garbage and full of flaws. Zotero remedies all of this and keeps track of everything you find that you want to be saved with both the PDF and the catalog information (you can adjust so it does both or only one or the other).


Zotero is very easy to install. Just be warned to not have Microsoft Word open while you do this because Zotero comes with a handy Word extension that wouldn’t install right if you have this program open. The Word extension is what allows you to add your citations and bibliographies with ease to documents you are working on. You could also change between different styles with no problem, i.e. Chicago, MLA, etc. I didn’t ask, but I doubt it works with Apple Pages. You also need the Zotero extension for your browser, so you can pull the data on the pages you find.


What’s more is that beyond the downloaded client, all of your data is saved on the Zotero.org site. You need to create an account, of course. But all that you have to do in order to exchange updated information between the two is simply hit sync. This is helpful too for updating the website with PDF’s and data you drag into the client from your hard drive or desktop.


It works with academic databases and even newspaper articles like the New York Times. The possibilities are rather endless in how it could make your research easier. And better yet there is a dynamic forum that helps with troubleshooting and has its own community following. There is a massive amount of documentation to help with general troubleshooting though and to help gain mastery. The instructor of the workshop lead me to documentation that will even help me install Zotero on my iPad or other mobile device. He did suggest making an appointment with him to help ensure that download goes smoothly though. He was actually very knowledgeable, he is the Digital Services Librarian named Stephen Klein (sklein@gc.cuny.edu).


Another cool function is being able to add notes and tags, so you can keep yourself organized within your workspace/the downloaded client. For example, I searched for articles on Hamlet critical theory for my other class and tagged it as relating to mental health. The tags display in their own section, so you can browse through each one specifically.


One thing Mr. Klein suggested was double checking the data was pulled correctly in the citation area. He said sometimes things get rough with page numbers and the like, so you just want to make sure everything loaded properly. He demoed pulling in an article, and sure enough, there were all sorts of errors in the citation with characters/quotation marks/markup language, so it is not entirely flawless.


One of the people had trouble installing the browser extension to his Surface Pro, which is a tablet but functions as a computer. He even had Chrome and Firefox, not just Microsoft Edge, the mobile browser. So, if you use this device you may have to get additional help to get things operating.


Another thing to consider is that Zotero does run out of allotted memory, but you can purchase additional (there’s even an unlimited plan) for pretty cheap. But Mr. Klein said it does take a while to fill up the free memory.


Other than that, I guess it’s just important to stress that these citations can follow you for life. If you are using another device that you don’t usually use, just log in and sync later. You can also easily disconnect the downloaded client from an account too so if you are using someone else’s computer you don’t save your workstation on their device. I highly recommend this workshop and this software if you aren’t already using it.