Bibliographic software are an essential part of the software suite of many researchers, providing an important means of organising citation data and associated documents and notes. In recent years, this software also become increasingly good at allowing researchers to directly import new references found on the web into their reference collections at the click of a few buttons. However, the recent release of a fairly stable Beta version of Zotero (2.0) – an open source bibliographic software – suggests that bibliographic management may soon be turned on its head.
One reason I think Zotero 2.0 will change the way many academics use bibliographic software is that it has various tools to enable collaboration across the web. Whereas Zotero 1.0 sat in your browser enabling you to acquire and manage your references, 2.0 enables you to:
- Synchronise and backup your Library to the web or another computer;
- Create public or private ‘groups’ on the web, allowing group members to collectively build reference collections online;
- search public collections compiled by other researchers;
- seemlessly add references found in public collections to your own collection
This will be of great value for teams working on collaborative research projects because it will allow team members to work from and also contribute to a central reference collection on the web. It may turn out to be a useful tool in various contexts, including:
- university lecturers or teachers seeking a single, web-friendly reference collection on a particular subject or topic;
- publishers, societies or organisations wanting to improve accessibility to their publications;
- researchers who want to compile a list of their own publications on the web, as a supplement to online resumes and so on;
- collaborators working on research projects involving multiple individual researchers;
In a project I am working on we are planning on using Zotero 2.0 to collaborate on compiling a database of archival sources. The ease with which individual collections can be shared in Zotero 2.0 makes it a very attractive alternative to the old system of swapping ZIP files of endnote libraries or worse still, emailing documents or reference lists back and forth for manual entry into your bibliographic software.
If you haven’t tried Zotero, then I suggest that you read this and decide whether you want to try the Beta or the current stable version. It takes no time to install and is completely free. Personally, I have found it to be an incredibly useful addition to my software suite and it is likely to soon completely replace the commerical bibliographic software I am currently using. I don’t think Zotero will change the way all archaeologists collaborate, however for key groups of web-savvy researchers I suspect Zotero 2.0 will be picked up very quickly because it provides what seems to me to be a rather unique set of tools not yet available elsewhere.
Michael Morrison’s Blog by Michael Morrison is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Australia License.
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