Managing Your Citations and Research Information with Zotero
Think of the last research paper you wrote. How many sources did you cite in it? How did you manage all of those references and sources? For large papers, you may need to keep track of dozens or even hundreds of sources. After doing your research, you can waste hours and hours getting your citations into the proper format, in the correct order in your paper, and listed in your bibliography.
Zotero is a free citation management program that helps you collect and easily organize your research information.
Learning how to use citation management software can improve the efficiency of your research and save you hundreds of hours with papers that you'll write in the future!
You can install Zotero as a plug-in to the Firefox web browser. When you visit a web page that you'd like to use in your research, Zotero lets you take a snapshot of the web page, locate and download the full-text of the article that is represented by the web page, and capture a properly-formatted citation to its source. Zotero also includes a plug-in for Microsoft Word and OpenOffice that allows you to insert citations by dragging-and-dropping them into the document and create a bibliography at the end of the paper. For most sources, you can do this automatically by simply clicking a few buttons.
How does Zotero work? The "Meet Zotero" series of short videos (credit: Luke Gaudreau) will walk you through how to download and use Zotero. Links to the videos, their timings, and learning outcomes are listed below.
- Part 1: Setup (1:14) - You will learn how to download Zotero, create an account at Zotero.org, and configure Zotero to use your account.
- Part 2: Saving Citations (2:42) - You will learn how to use Zotero to capture citations, links, web pages, and full-text files from an online library catalog and an online database. You will also learn how to create a new citation when one cannot be captured automatically.
- Part 3: Organize (1:06) - You will learn how to create folders in Zotero and organize citations in them. You will also learn how to add and search notes.
- Part 4: Citations and Bibliography (3:07) - You will learn how to download and install the word processor plug-in(s) and use it to insert citations into a Microsoft Word document and generate a bibliography.
Zotero supports hundreds of different style guides. Common style guides such as the Chicago Manual of Style, APA, and MLA are build into Zotero. Can't find the style you need for your paper? Additional style guides can be downloaded from the Zotero Style Repository. You can also edit existing styles or create your own.
Do you want to share your citations or collaborate with others online? Create an account and log on to Zotero Groups, where you can create and share citations in three different types of groups:
- Public, Open Membership: Anyone can view, join, and edit the group's contents.
- Public, Closed Membership: Anyone can view the group, but only members can edit its contents. You can invite members to join by their Zotero username or their email address.
- Private Membership: Only members can view and edit the group's content.
You can create an account and save up to 100 megabytes online for free. If you need more file storage on Zotero's server, it is available for purchase. You can also import and export citations from Zotero to other programs such as EndNote in a variety of common formats (e.g., BibTex and RIS).
For more information use the list of links on the right ("Zotero Links") to download Zotero and its word processor plug-ins and access the official Zotero documentation and user forums.
Need help? This guide has only provided a quick overview of Zotero. Librarians are available to consult with faculty and give more in-depth instruction to students and researchers who are affiliated with Purdue.
Please contact your subject librarian to schedule a class or consultation.