For researchers and analysts, citation and referencing are of critical importance. After finishing the research, most of us often end up compiling a list of sources, links and attachments as well as a detailed report. Zotero is a free, cross-platform utility that simplifies the collective goals of organization and management of references. Apart from the standalone application, Zotero fits nicely with your browsers and word processors in order to monitor and insert links of interest to relevant places in the workspace. It also generates bibliography and related documentation formats, automatically saving you a lot of valuable time. With features like duplicate detection, searching, sorting and syncing features, this powerful tool provides users with a unique reference management experience.
After installing the standalone version, you will be welcomed by a main window partitioned into three columns. The left column presents a hierarchical listing of the library with special folders for Duplicate, Unfiled items and Trash. On the bottom left corner, the search bar is placed along with the tag display box. These tags give easy navigation, organization and sorting facilities, making search and required data retrieval processes, efficient. The center column is the main part of the program, where all entries in a specific folder are displayed while operations and attachments can be linked by right clicking. In addition, the right column provides a word editor, allowing document modifications on the go.
You can view the links of interest from Zotero just by right clicking, while report generation, bibliography creation and export features can be accessed from the right-click context menu.
It can be integrated into your browsers and word processors while all data can be bookmarked and synced using the Zotero account (which implies that you must create a new account). These account details will then be specified in the Sync tab in the Preferences window. In addition, the loop button on the top right corner of the main window allows you to update with the server.
You can add books, blog posts, journal and newspaper articles, etc. using the relevant panel above the center column. It supports ISBN, PMID, and DOI codes for automatic information extraction.
Another distinguishing feature of this utility is the Library Time-lining feature. Timelines and RTF scans can be performed from the Tools menu in the toolbar. The powerful add-on manager enhances the Zotero experience for the better.
This application is very useful for aspiring and professional researchers who deal with tons of data and are looking for ways to properly organize and cite them. We tested this on Windows 7, 64-bit edition while it is fully compatible with Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.