Organizing References Using Zotero

Zotero is an online and/or offline reference organizing/archiving tool. Zotero is a Firefox/Mozilla addon. Zotero is free of charge and open-sourced.

Organizing references is time-consuming. However, without an organized referential library, it consumes even more time to do literature review or pin down the references for a research work. Zotero provides an effective approach to the organization.

Four things make Zotero special:

  • Zotero is cross-platform. As long as Firefox works, Zotero works.
  • Zotero can operate without internet connection. On the other hand, some online reference organization software, e.g., RefWork®, require internet connection, since they are implemented as web applications and executed remotely.
  • Zotero maintains a centralized server for a user to synchronize the referential library across various computers the user uses. Traditional bibliography software such as EndNote® has difficulty to synchronize libraries in multiple computers.
  • Zotero allows to create groups on their server, and the groups automatically appear in the UI of Firefox on users’ computer. Attached files can also be shared among group members through the online storage provided on Zotero server. Extra storage can be purchased.

To use Zotero with the nice synchronization feature needs only three steps:

  1. Go to http://www.zotero.org/ using your Firefox browser, and click Download button to install.
  2. Still in the Zotero homepage. Register an account.
  3. In the Zotero UI in Firefox, press the setting button (Gear icon) and select Preference. Press the Sync button and provide the user name and password that you just obtained in the registration of Zotero account.

For more information, consult the support pages of Zotero.