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I'm in love with Zotero!

OK - this probably won't interest you if you're not doing academic work, but for all you students and researchers out there, listen up!

I've been using EndNote X - it's very useful, and I couldn't do without it, but I'm not completely happy with it - the main reason being that the database is not accessible in an open format. This means that I'm stuck with them forever, or if I do change, I have to re-enter everything manually into a new database (and I have 522 references so far). Also, it's kind of clunky when it comes to printing out a bibliography, doing internet references, and adapting the styles.

I heard some good things about Zotero, so I decided to check it out - and I'm in love!

Yes! It's really good - and the best thing is that it seems to be a perfect tool for archiving blog posts (which I do a lot of!). It will archive whole webpages offline, and extract information such as author, blog name, date, etc.

I wanted to do a screencast to show you how smooth it is, but Camtasia is not working (due to some video acceleration problem that I can't change in Vista/my computer >:[ ) so check here for some tutorials, etc.

OK - I'm in love, but she ain't perfect: the information extracted is not always completely accurate. For example - the title of the blog post often includes the name too, and depending on the platform it may or may not get the date of the post.

I can import my references from EndNote (using the BibTeX format), but it doesn't bring over all my notes, which is bad. But again, that's probably due to EndNote's closed format rather than anything to do with Zotero.

However, overall it's the best thing I've seen so far - and it also integrates with Word to do formatted in-text citations, bibliographies, etc. And it's completely free - whereas EndNoteX will cost you USD 250! Which is a ridiculous price, when you think of it.

I did have one problem installing the Word plugin - when I first tried to insert a citation it gave the following error:
"An error occurred communicating with Zotero. Please ensure Firefox is open and try again"

I managed to solve it though: the Zotero word processor plugin troubleshooting has various options, and the one that solved it for me was number 5:
If the integration server is running, disable any firewall software running on your computer. If this fixes the problem, make sure your firewall is set to allow access to "localhost" or "" (also known as the "loopback interface").

I have ZoneAlarm running, and this is how I did it:
• Open ZoneAlarm, go to Firewall, and select Add > IP Address

• Give it a label to remind yourself what it's for, and enter the IP address
• Press 'Apply'
And you're done, that worked for me anyway - hope it does for you! :-)

Overall: students and academics out there, geddit!


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Jamie on :

Thanks for the tip! Will check it out. I've been manually plugging my references in. Time to join the 21st century, lol!

julian on :

You're welcome, and yes try it out! You'll find it so useful longer term to keep track of all the material you use in your different classes, etc.
There is also some solution meaning you can use it across different computers by using a thumb drive as the base.

Jan on :


another resource for those interested in research management tools is Mendeley (, I'm one of the co-founders of Mendeley.)

Different from Zotero, Mendeley Desktop is not a Firefox plugin, but a free cross-platform (Windows, Mac, Linux) software for managing, sharing and tagging research papers. You can also back up and synchronize your library with Mendeley Web and access it from everywhere, either on Mendeley Web or via Mendeley Desktop on a different PC.

Then, based on the users’ paper collections, Mendeley Web anonymously aggregates research statistics and also connects like-minded researchers and academics. In the future, we hope to build a large and open semantic database of research papers, sort of like a “ for research”.

It's a different approach than Zotero, but you might want to try it as well. Keep in mind that we just launched into public beta, but we are working with some of the people who co-founded ( and Skype to improve Mendeley's features.

Take care

julian on :

Thanks for the info, I'll check it out. The fact that Mendeley is not integrated into Firefox seems useful, but I really like the way Zotero captures information from webpages.

Jimme Jardine on :

Hi Julian,

I have been coming at the research management problem from a different perspective. I decided to build Qiqqa (pronounced "Quicker") at the same time as working towards my PhD.

Although I did try using existing applications like Zotero and Mendeley, to locate my papers, I found them all quite lacking in the ability to mark the interesting parts of my papers (text, formulae and diagrams) so that I can quickly review them every few months, and especially when it comes time to writing up my thesis! GoogleScholar is still my method of choice for locating documents, so I made it easy to query Google Scholar while reading a PDF. Of course, using it all day, I have added in tons of little nifty features that save me loads of time (e.g. right-click text in PDF and lookup word in

Also, I found the text searching and exporting support from most of the other tools to be quite unreliable for scanned PDFs, so I built in OCR to tackle that.

At the moment I don't support bibliography management - although that is coming fast (I have only been working on Qiqqa since the beginning of this year). But first I am putting in the finishing touches on synchronizing and backing up onto the Amazon S3 cloud so that I can work from the lab and from home.

I am hoping that others will find Qiqqa useful, and will enjoy using it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I hope to get a lot of feedback from other students and researchers to learn how they are approaching their PhDs or research, and where they are hitting bottlenecks.

If you have a moment, I'd really appreciate your feedback, since you've surveyed Mendeley and Zotero. It's available at

Jimme (

julian on :

Hi - sorry for the late reply. very busy at the moment.

Unfortunately I don't see myself checking out your software at the moment, but will try to get round to it.

All the best

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