Would you like to download information about your sources with the click of a button instead of painstakingly typing out bibliographic data? Would you like to automagically insert correct references into your publications in any citation style? Would you like to focus on writing your articles, chapters, books, and so on, and never, ever craft a references section by hand again?
As a reference manager Zotero can (and maybe even should) become one of your primary tools. Not only is it free, it’s also easy to use. Zotero helps you collect, organize, cite and share research. Since its creation in 2006, Zotero has become one of the most widely used citation management tools and is supported in more than thirty languages.
Never heard of it? No need to panic. We’re here to explain how you can set up Zotero yourself and dive into the wonderful world of reference management. This post is the first in a series that will help you to get to know the many options Zotero offers to support your research process and to better manage your research data.
Register for a free Zotero account here. This will allow you to sync and access your library from anywhere, back up all your attached files, and join groups like our own Artes Digital Scholarship Community.
Zotero offers a web application as well as a desktop application. We advise you to use the desktop application as it provides more options than the web version. You can download the desktop application from the Zotero download page. Download the Zotero connector as well, as it automatically senses different types of content as you browse the web and allows you to save those resources, including relevant metadata, to Zotero with a single click.
After you complete the set-up, open the Zotero desktop application. Go to Edit > Preferences > Sync and enter your Zotero account details. You can choose which libraries you want to sync. By default, Zotero will sync your local data with the Zotero servers whenever changes are made. This will enable you to work with your data from any computer with Zotero installed.
- Optional: Join a group
Within Zotero you can create or join groups. As a member or owner of a group you can collaborate remotely with project members or colleagues within related areas (publicly or privately), set up web-based bibliographies for classes you teach, and so much more. It’s a great way to discover other people with similar interests and the sources they are citing. If you want to join a Zotero group, log in to the Zotero website, search for groups here or go to the group URL, and click on the ‘Join’ button. Depending on the group setup, you will be admitted automatically or after a group admin approves the request.
A great starting point is the Artes Digital Scholarship Community. This Zotero group is packed with resources on digital scholarship for KU Leuven researchers, students, and staff, curated by the KU Leuven Libraries Artes research team. When you join, you can add your own resources, see the content of attachments, and search this group right from your own Zotero desktop application. If you’re not a group member, you can still browse and search the content of the group.
As you can imagine, this post was just the tip of the iceberg on Zotero. Keep an eye on our blog for an upcoming post on how to gather and process references!