If you ever find yourself needing to cite something, whether it’s for work or school, you know how complicated and tedious the process can be. Luckily, there is a tool out there that works as your own personal, digital research assistant.
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Gone are the days of frantically looking for some website to generate a compilation at the last minute before a deadline. This tool aims to be the one-stop-shop for all your research-related needs. Keep reading and we’ll tell you everything you need to know to get started today.
What is Zotero, and how does it work?
In big, centered letters Zotero’s website spells out in plain terms what the app does: it’s a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite and share research.
Zotero is available for Windows, Mac and Linux machines. You can also install a Zotero Connector, which is Zotero’s name for a browser extension that allows you to automatically sense and save content as you browse the web with a single click: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge are supported.
The main features of Zotero are as follows:
- Single-click collection: Zotero automatically senses if you’re looking at research content on the web and gives you the option to save a piece of research with a single click.
- The ultimate organization: Sort items into collections, tag them with keywords or create savable searches that automatically fill with relevant documents as you go about your work.
- Cite with ease: Instantly create references and bibliographies, and choose from over 9,000 citation styles to make sure you have access to whatever format you need.
- Stay in sync and collaborate: Zotero can sync your data across devices, so whenever you log in to Zotero, you’ll have everything you need. You can also share your Zotero library with as many people as you like, entirely for free!
In short, Zotero really can be your own personal research assistant, if you’re in the market for that sort of thing.
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How to use Zotero
Your first step is to download and install Zotero on your platform of choice. While all major desktop platforms are supported, unfortunately, Zotero does not have any mobile apps just yet. It works as a download for Windows, Mac and Linux machines.
After downloading Zotero, when you open the tool, you’ll have access to a quick start guide which provides a helpful introduction.
From the homepage, simply click the Plus button on the top-right of the window and a drop-down menu will appear with different options for research entries. From here, you can customize and input any research you like into your digital library.
Click on the Tools tab for easy access to Zotero’s Browser Connector, which will allow you to insert entries into your library from the web with a single click. Familiar settings can be found under the File tab, where users have the option to import and export libraries easily, making sharing simple.
If you ever feel lost, don’t worry: Click on the Help tab at the top of the screen and select Support and Documentation which will bring you to an exhaustive manual for the tool online.
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