Archive for April, 2010

Zotero Basics: Manually Adding Items and Files

It’s official: Zotero has a ton of features. And there’s a good chance you’re not making use of some features that could make your research life a lot easier. To help spread the word about some of these features we are starting a new series of posts to help users make the most of Zotero.

For Part I of our series we start with manually adding items to your library. Zotero’s automatic captures make it easy to work with web resources, but not everything you need to use in your research is online. Zotero makes it easy to manually add items as well. Watch this video, or follow the steps below, to add anything to your library and attach any kind of files.

Manually Adding Items to Zotero from zotero on Vimeo.

1. Click on the green plus (+) icon in the center column. Select the type of item you want to create from the drop-down menu. You can view more item types at the bottom of the menu. If the options do not fit your item exactly, try to find the kind of item that would contain the same fields. Once you select an item type, an blank item of that type will appear in your center column.

2. Manually enter the bibliographic information into the right column. Click on any of the fields in the right column to begin entering your information. If you have additional authors you can click on the + next to the first author to add additional fields. To enter an editor or other contributor, click on the “Author” label to reveal a drop-down menu that will let you select other creator types.

3. When you have finished entering the metadata, you can drag in attachments. You can attach any kind of file to any item by simply dragging the file from your desktop onto a Zotero item. You can then double-click the item to launch the file. If Firefox supports the file format it will simply display it in your browser. If the file format is not supported by Firefox, Zotero will launch whatever application your computer uses by default to open the file.

Standalone Zotero

We’re excited to reveal that the Zotero project has begun preliminary development of a standalone version of the research software that will interact with browsers other than Firefox. Code has already been committed to Zotero’s open-source repository that provides a glimpse of how this new version might work. This proof of concept is allowing our developers to study how best to integrate Zotero with other popular browsers like Google Chrome and Microsoft Internet Explorer. Of course, Firefox is still an excellent web browser, and we’re confident that it will remain so for years to come. That said, we also want to provide the Zotero community with the opportunity to use other software when they choose to do so, or when they face institutional barriers to using Firefox.

Introducing ZoteroSquare

As always, Team Zotero has been hard at work rolling out dazzling new features designed with you, the harried researcher, squarely in mind. Today we’re delighted to announce the latest service aimed at dragging our interpersonally-challenged colleagues into the age of social networking. We give you ZoteroSquare.

The service works as follows: ZoteroSquare users “citat-in” in order to earn “badges” sure to inspire envy and admiration in tenure committees around the world. A few examples include:

Local: You’ve been at the same place (e.g. curled in the fetal position inside a library study carrel) 3x in one week!

Super User: That’s 30 citatins and nothing written in a month for you!

JetSetter: Hopping around the world one soul-crushing panel at a time… congrats on your 5th conference citatin and safe travels!

Bender: That’s 4+ years of graduate school for you!

Explorer: You’ve citatinated into 25 different twelve-step programs!

Asked for background on the inspiration for ZoteroSquare’s path-breaking innovation of citatins, Zotero Developer Fred Gibbs protested, “How are we supposed to pronounce that? Citation? Citating? That doesn’t even make any sense!” The stunning new functionality not only exploits Zotero’s millions of intelligent and lonely users, it also leverages the full extent of the software’s origins. “Few people know that Zotero is at its core powered purely by dating software,” revealed Dan Stillman, Zotero’s Lead Developer.

Zotero Web Developer Faolan Cheslack-Postava shrugged in disgust when asked for comment, but Community Lead Trevor Owens enthusiastically dubbed ZoteroSquare “the most depraved navel-gazing software since Dragon NaturallyTweeting.” Zotero Co-Director Sean Takats added that he had grown bored with providing researchers with useful tools and now simply wanted to cash in with premium services. According to Takats, Zotero’s future business model could hardly be more straightforward:

1. Add social networking features.
2. ???
3. Profit!

When confronted about the new feature’s striking similarity to the inexplicably popular service FourSquare, Zotero Co-Director Dan Cohen tersely asserted that he has been appending “-Square” to the end of various words since at least 2001.

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