Zotero, Personal Research Assistant

zotero, personal research assistant

I've been looking for a tool like Zotero, which allows me to organize and manage in a simple and effective way all the information that I am storing on topics that interest me, projects I want to work on and / or on the articles I'm going to write.

And it is that although Zotero is known by people as a bibliography manager and has been its main function for a long time, today they themselves define the project as a Personal research assistant. And it's the most interesting thing I've ever seen.

Take a look because if you are a Maker or you like to work on projects, research and collect information on different topics, you will fall in love.

What is

Zotero is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share research.

The truth is that I store a lot of information in many different formats, pdf, images, videos, articles, books, etc. and I find it very difficult to keep order and then have everything close at hand when I need it.

Imagine that I want to do research on a topic. One day I find a paper in pdf, another I make some related photos, another day I find images on the web, another day I simply write down some references or a book to read, or a contact email from an expert on the subject.

And so with the passage of time when I want to write about any of these topics I have all the information at hand.

This that a priori seems so simple I have not managed to organize it well.

I have tried different ways. Using Evernote, Pocket, blog drafts, but everything has very big deficiencies and they do not serve my way of working.

And searching I have found Zotero, and already pulling the thread with a multitude of alternatives that I did not know existed.

It is open source https://github.com/zotero

Zotero inside. How to use

These are some screenshots of the tool's interface. But if you want to see how it works, take a look at the video that I have left above and you can get a clearer idea

The tool is divided into three sections. On the left we see the main structure of files and our libraries

zotero graphical interface

In the center what is in the folders is displayed and to the right we see different data and metadata of the files.

manage projects and investigations, archives with zotero

I leave many features that we see in the video.

file metadata in zotero

We can also add tags to relate documents, notes, etc. transversally between different projects.

labels in zotero

Zotero is a personal research assistant. A tool to collect, structure and share information.

I've been looking for something similar for a long time

I leave the video again because I think it serves us much better to see what we can do with this tool.

Download Zotero

Depending on the operating system you use there are different ways to download and install it.

Enter the download section of the official website and select your operating system. You will download an .exe for Windows, a .dmg for macOS and the corresponding extension for Linux

Plugins

In addition to the functionalities of the problem, there is a large extension of plugins that allow us to add many functionalities and use zotero in other areas.

So for example we see that there are plugins for WordPress and for Drupal. LaTex and Tex integrations. With statistical software like RStudio.

Plugins to improve imports and to add functionalities to attachments. A whole world that is expanding more and more.

Integration with Google Scholar or Google Books

Enter to see all plugins.

ZoteroBib

It is the specialization of the tool as a bibliographic manager. If you are only looking for a bibliographic manager for your book, thesis, etc., you can test this much simpler tool.

ZoteroBib helps you create a bibliography instantly from any computer or device, without creating an account or installing any software. It is introduced to you by the team behind Zotero, the powerful open source research tool recommended by thousands of universities around the world, so you can trust it to help you seamlessly add sources and produce perfect bibliographies. If you need to reuse fonts across multiple projects or create a shared research library, we recommend that you use Zotero.

Here your official website

Zotero in Word and LibreOffice

One of the options most used by all those who are writing their TFG, their thesis, doctoral thesis, etc.

The integration of Zotero with our text editor, either Office Word, or with a free software editor like LibreOffice solves the tedious bibliographic and citation management of this type of project.

It is the best known use of this project. here we are giving it a more generic use, taking advantage of all the part of project management and information that is much more unknown

I am preparing a specific tutorial on installing and using Zotero in Word and LibreOffice

Zotero Connector for Chrome and Firefox

This plugin or extension for the browser will be essential if you are going to make intensive use of Zotero, since there is nothing more comfortable than browsing a file or an article that interests you, clicking on a browser icon and it is automatically saved in Zotero.

Imagine a Pocket but keeping it inside your project folders.

Why Zotero and not another?

I'm still testing it, but I have chosen it because it adapts very well to my needs to be able to work with a large number of formats.

And also because it is Open Source and I prefer it to proprietary solutions.

Alternatives

There are many and you have to study them and take a look at them. Although initially I discard the proprietary solutions, but I leave them in the list in case they serve you.

The main alternative, the most commercial and known is Mendeley, we could almost say that it is Zotero that is an alternative to Mendeley.

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