Rochelle (Shelley) Rodrigo

phone icon757-683-3997


Why Zotero


zoteroContext of this Post

I’ve known about secondary resource management/citation tools for a while now; you know, things like EndNote, RefWorks, Zotero, and Mendeley. And I’ve wanted to get started working with them so I build my digital annotated bibliography resource list; however, I haven’t. Let’s be honest, these types of applications don’t pay off in the short term (building them for one project). They are about building resources over time and then being able to slice and dice your database to find the resources you want and/or need. Since I’m teaching ENGL794/894, Digital Writing Research, I’ve decided we will all start our databases. My hope is that the PhD students in the course will come back and thank me once they’ve started studying for their comps and/or working on their dissertations. I did, however, just talk with the one creative writing student in the course; she reminded me that most creative writers also have to do research for their projects! Whew…it will be useful for her as well!

The Actual Post

I’ve decided to build my resource database in Zotero for a variety of reasons. First, members of my research lab are already building in there; therefore, if we are all in Zotero, we can all collaborate on building annotated bibliographies and crafting reviews of literature. The lab having picked it is a real world reason for selecting Zotero. I am, thankful, however, that I was already leaning towards Zotero for other reasons.

Second, Zotero is free! I know that ODU has a site license for EndNote; however, what if I leave? My students are definitely leaving and I want to collaborate with them? The only thing I’ll probably (most likely) spend money on is upgrading the storage on the digital server. And if I’m good, I’ll get that covered by a research grant so it is updating my space as well as the other faculty and scholars working with me!

Third, Zotero has some functionality I’m not seeing in the other options. First awesome functionality, and this is probably the most important one, Zotero allows for an indefinite number of notes associated with each resource/entry. So, that means for each resource I have the regular summary/abstract information; however, I can start a new note for each different project I associate with the resource. I also like that Zotero thinks like iTunes and keeps one “copy” of the resource and all it’s attached notes and then constructs “playlists” of grouped resources/entries based on what/how/why someone organizes them.

I am bummed that Zotero no longer has highlighting and annotating functionality in PDFs. However, they multi-notepage functionality more than makes up for this loss.

I was also WOWed by Mendeley’s social media functionality. And as I mentioned to the research lab crew, I think we’ll need to dedicate a lab meeting to setting up our Mendeley entries and plan to update them once a semester or year.

And EndNote, the other serious choice because it is available through ODU, was more of a citation manager than a resource manager, I wanted the robust note taking and collaborating functionality.

I’ll end with, now that I have a new laptop cover, and I’ve selected Zotero, I want my Zotero sticker!

Creative Commons licensed image posted at Flickr by Alexandra Guerson