by Roy Rosenzweig, George Mason University
Zotero is a free, easy-to-use research tool that helps you gather and organize resources (whether bibliography or the full text of articles), and then lets you to annotate, organize and share the results of your research. It includes the best parts of older reference manager software such as EndNote (like the ability to store full reference information in author, title and publication fields and to export that as formatted references) and the best parts of modern software such as del.icio.us or iTunes (like the ability to sort, tag and search in advanced ways). Using its unique ability to sense when you are viewing a book, article or other resource on the web, Zotero will–on many major research sites–find and automatically save the full reference information for you in the correct fields.
The 1.0 beta release of Zotero already provides advanced functionality for gathering, organizing and scanning your research, as well as basic import/export capability and bibliographic formatting tools. Automatic updates to the software in the fall and winter of 2006-2007 will provide many more citation styles, the ability for Zotero to recognize even more online resources, even better support for importing and exporting entire collections, and integration with Microsoft Word and other word processors. And coming soon, Zotero users will be able to share their collections with other users, collaborate on research projects using Zotero, send their collections to other free web services (such as mapping or translation sites) and receive recommendations and feeds of new resources that might be of interest. In short, over the next year Zotero will expand from an already helpful browser extension into a full-fledged tool for digital research and communications.
Zotero requires Firefox 2.0 and can be downloaded for free from the Zotero website, which also includes full documentation and a forum for discussion.