¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Last week, I attended a workshop provided by the Mina Rees Library. Two librarians, from the excellent library staff, walked participants through the installation and basic use of the citation management program, Zotero. It was an incredibly helpful session, and I am excited about the ways this new tool might assist in my research.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 There are different ways to use Zotero, and it works with several Internet browsers. I installed the standalone application, and synced it to Chrome and Word. Working with several open windows is more comfortable to me, so having the Zotero library separate from the browser window is ideal. After getting the basic idea of how it works, collecting metadata, files and snapshots from online sources, making folders for different projects, and adding tags and notes, I have been experimenting with the actual use of Zotero.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 The benefits in terms of the actual writing of a paper, with proper citations, and a flawless bibliography, are clear. These mechanical bits of producing a research paper, are the least fun parts, and Zotero just takes care of it all. But, it only works if the data it has gathered is good and complete. It seems to work well with articles from JSTOR, and e-books from the library. Keeping track of books located online, from Hathi Trust for example, does not work as smoothly. Looking at digitized historical documents online, is another issue. After more use of Zotero, I hope to have a better understanding of what it is capturing.
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 All of this prompted me to think about how I research, and how other students (and non-students) do research. Zotero encourages users to look at the metadata being collected from websites, perhaps meaning researchers will give more consideration to the source. And, not just the metadata, but the information in general. This seems like a good practice. Zotero might be used to teach students, from high school and up, to critically evaluate the information they are receiving from their sources.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 In two weeks, I have a paper due for my archaeology class. I intend to use Zotero, to gather citations and organize my sources, for that paper. I believe it will compliment my usual approach to a research paper, without disturbing my established, comfortable methods. In a future post, I will reflect on the experience.
¶ 8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Having used Zotero now for several papers and projects this semester, I can say that it is an amazing tool. Taking away the tedious parts of making a bibliography, or proper citations for footnotes, is fantastic, and yet users are still required to understand the information included, so that the importance of the task is not diminished. Organizing the materials for a specific project into folders (called collections) within Zotero is helpful as well, and mirrors the way I usually keep track of resources on my computer. The introduction provided by the library staff at the workshop was critical to setting up the program, and getting started; further experience with the program, and a certain amount of just trying things out, revealed how useful Zotero can be.
¶ 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 The other two workshops I attended, a GIS introduction that included a Carto demonstration, and a beginning Python class, were helpful, and I imagine that more experience with these tools will allow me to use them effectively as well.