Organize your research with Zotero

Posted on: September 15, 2014 | By: Casey Brown | Filed under: Tech Tips

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 11.07.14 AMThe beginning of the new school year is the best time to create new habits, and our Belk librarians are here to help. Library staff members Lynne Bisko and Vicki Siler believe that organization is key during the research process of major papers or presentations. That is why they suggest Zotero as your new research tool.

What is Zotero?

Zotero is a free program created to simplify and organize your research. When you research online, you can click the “Save to Zotero” button to add a news article, scholarly source or even a book from a library catalog to a collection within your account. The collections are structured similarly to iTunes playlists, listing all your documents clearly with the option to create sub-collections to organize your research even further.

An example of a collection in Zotero.

An example of a collection in Zotero.

Keeping all the research in one easily accessible place will eliminate the stress of forgetting where you put articles or having to return to a site to retrieve the citation. Not to mention that Zotero also allows you to generate citations in all the standard styles, like MLA, APA, and Chicago.

An example of creating a citation in Zotero.

An example of creating a citation in Zotero.


A major feature of the program is the ability to collaborate. Zotero allows you to add as many members to a single project as you like. Within the project, you can share files, analyze data and even communicate through a discussion thread. Zotero is available on Mac, Windows and Linux.

How can it help you?

With its clean, simple way to store research, Zotero could change the way you compile your sources. Librarian Siler thinks it’s a tool you should become familiar with as soon as possible.

“This application is a great one to learn early,” Siler said. “It will work well for senior seminar [final papers]. With Zotero, you’re going to have a handle on citing sources and saving research. It is better to start early than late on developing those skills.”

Siler says its features like organizing research and creating citations that will save you time in the long run.

“You won’t waste time doing citations or a bibliography because it will all be right there,” Siler said. “It is such a time saver.”

It may be an adjustment but Bisko believes that using technology to simplify tasks like citations is a good way to stay organized.

“It’s important to be organized and take advantage of the resources available to you,” Bisko said. “It will benefit you to make good use of your technology.”


What is your favorite research tool? Let us know in the comments below!

Casey Brown

Casey Brown

Casey Brown is the Writing Intern for Technology with Elon University's Teaching and Learning Technologies Department.

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