Useful Study Tools: Zotero

ZoteroThis post comes from over on where I wrote it as part of a Digital Study Skills sem­i­nar that came from the last Structured Pro-cras­ti­na­tion post i wrote on the top­ic last year. I fig­ure its also use­ful for peo­ple who arn’t study­ing at Ridley and sim­ply want bet­ter tools for aca­d­e­m­ic research. So here it is for every­one else.

Stemming from the short sem­i­nar on Digital Study Skills that was held on cam­pus a few weeks ago, this is the first of a series of posts on a vari­ety of use­ful study tools.

First up we have Zotero, a full fea­tured cita­tion man­ag­er that will help you to keep your ref­er­ences in line, find your dig­i­tal resources, col­late your book or arti­cle sum­maries, and even make you mid­night cof­fees. Ok well maybe not the last one, but its pret­ty good none the less.

For those of you who may have used Endnote in the past, in the­o­ry Zotero is just like Endnote. But thank­ful­ly the­o­ry is where the sim­i­lar­i­ties end. In the real world Zotero actu­al­ly works, and does­nt crash reg­u­lar­ly, which should be rea­son enough to use it over EndNote.

The basic usage of Zotero works like this:

  1. Add ref­er­ence into Zotero from ATLA (via RIS export), the Ridley Library or (via brows­er plu­g­ins), or enter by hand.
  2. Cite ref­er­ence in Word, or oth­er word proces­sor while you write.
  3. Sit back and mar­vel at not hav­ing to man­u­al­ly for­mat references.

To get start­ed with Zotero is pret­ty easy, but rather than me regur­gi­tat­ing what oth­ers have writ­ten it is bet­ter to check out the Zotero doc­u­men­ta­tion here:

However, there are a cou­ple of tricks and neat fea­tures of Zotero which can come in handy for the intre­pid stu­dent or researcher.

1. ATLA/EBSCO does­n’t play well with proxies RISExport

For some bizarre rea­son you can’t use the Zotero brows­er plu­g­in to grab your favourite ref­er­ences from ATLA. Instead the easy way to get around this is to use the Export fea­ture in ATLA to export as an RIS for­mat and then import this into Zotero. You can do this for

each indi­vid­ual ref­er­ence, or you can add them all to a sin­gle fold­er and do it all at once. Just look for the Export but­ton on the site, as demon­strat­ed in the fol­low­ing screenshot:

It real­ly is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

2. Built in Rename FunctionRenameFile

When adding PDFs from ATLA or scanned doc­u­ments, don’t stress about nam­ing them man­u­al­ly when Zotero can do it for you. Simply right click on the ref­er­ence > “Add Attachment” > “Add Link to File”. Once you have added the link, right click on the link and select “Rename File from Parent Metadata” and the file will be renamed as Author — Date — Title. Piece of cake.


Also when export­ing for your essays use the Ridley export which is based upon the SBL stylesheet, and mod­i­fied by our past stu­dent Rob. The export for­mat­ting is avail­able here: sbl-fullnote-bibliography-ridley8.csl

Finally, no cita­tion man­ag­er is per­fect, and is only as good as the infor­ma­tion that it is fed. So you still need to cast an eye over your ref­er­ences in Zotero when you add them, and run a final check over your essay after you have fin­ished it to make sure they are all correct.

Happy Essays!




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