Zotero, or your best friends when it comes to bibliography and organising your references


Writing a thesis or a dissertation is a very meticulous and complex task. Indeed, you have to find the perfect outline, write something you and your supervisor are happy with, limit yourself to a certain length, and add references, among other things. But references are not always easy to use, because the bibliographic norms that you should respect will not be the same if you study literature, civilisation, or linguistics. You also have to pay attention to the edition, to the type of media you are quoting, and even to punctuation.

But what if I told you that there was a software that could take care of everything that has to do with references for you?

This software is called Zotero. It is a free and open-source program that will help you manage references and bibliographic data. Although it is not well-known by students, it is a very helpful tool that is easy to use and that can save you time and provide perfect norms and references.

Once Zotero is installed on your computer, you will find it in your browser’s toolbar. It means that every time you read an interesting article, the only thing you will have to do is click the Zotero logo, and the article’s reference will be added to your database.

In the same way, every time you want to quote a book, all you have to do is add a few information such as the author, the edition, or the pages you consulted in Zotero (you can add up to 27 pieces of information for each entry), and the software will record them, thus creating an electronic library of everything you used to write your thesis or dissertation.

Once the information about a book (or an article, a TV show etc.) is in Zotero, you can add personal notes about it, thus allowing you to have them with you all the time (as opposed to revision cards that can be lost or damaged).  Thanks to the synchronisation option, you can use your Zotero account on different computers and even on your smartphone.

Finally, once everything is recorded and you want to create a bibliography, all you have to do is click the “create a bibliography” option, select the norm you want to use (APA, CMS, MLA…), and paste it to your dissertation or thesis.

Thus, you have a perfect list of references, with all the information needed, correct punctuation, and all of the works consulted during the writing of your dissertation.

Since the software is often updated, it will never make a mistake, and so you will only have to focus on your research.

Another option that is available on Zotero is the creation of research groups, that allows members to share their research library and to communicate with each other.

You can find the software on www.zotero.org, it is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

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