A Must Have: Zotero Manages the Entire Research & Writing Process

Yesterday a representative from Zotero, Trevor Owens, gave a demo to our law school faculty. To say that they were impressed would be an understatement – there were actual squeals of delight.
Zotero is a free, easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources. I’ve known about it for a while (in fact I posted about it last year) but until this week, I had no idea how powerful it is.
It’s not just a free version of RefWorks or EndNote which help you capture citations and create bibliographies. Zotero does that, but also much more: it manages the entire research and writing process.
For example, say you’re viewing a journal article in HeinOnline. If you look up in the Firefox address bar, you’ll see a little paper icon. When you click on the icon, Zotero will capture the full citation information. BUT–and here’s the kicker–you can also download the entire PDF article which will attach itself to the citation information.
Now imagine doing this a hundred times over, and not just with articles but with all kinds of documents – web pages, books, gov docs, images, audio, video, etc. Then add content from your own desktop – word files, PDFs, MP3s, PPT files, etc. You can attach pretty much any kind of file to a citation.
Then organize it all into folders (more like iTunes playlists than folders actually) for different projects. And the really cool part is that you can keyword search it all – even the attached articles, word files, web pages, etc. Wow!
But wait – there’s more! When you’re ready to sit down and write, up steps the Zotero MS Word add on which automatically creates citations for you in your choice of citation style – INCLUDING BLUEBOOK! (The Bluebook style is still in beta, but neither EndNote or RefWorks offer Bluebook at all) Or, if you don’t use MS Word, you can simply drag the citation from your Zotero library into any document (WordPerfect, Google Docs, email, etc.) and it will paste in the correctly formatted citation.
Just amazing – Zotero is an absolute must have for anyone who writes. For more information, watch this short video or read the informational flyer.
Update: When I wrote this post, I’d forgotten that EndNote now supports the Bluebook citation style. See my earlier post.