I’m sold.  I am head over heals in LOVE with Zotero for research tracking.  Being able to automatically add items into it on the fly is great, but I could do that with Refworks.  However being able to EASILY put notes and such with it, automatically organize associated PDF files and works with Word.  Inside Higher Ed did a GREAT review and discussion of the tool, so I won’t repeat that here, but I do want to talk a bit about why this tool is worth the effort of switching.

  1. You can load data from your other tools into Zotero, ensuring that you don’t lose anything in the process.
  2. It is free – Endnote works fairly well, but isn’t cheap and Refworks may be free to me but I know the University paid big bucks for it
  3. It has an active community of users and developers, who listen to requests for enhancements and work really hard to make them.
  4. The developers are realistic.  They don’t make promises about when things will be done and what they will or won’t include.  They are constantly improving but rationally

I am also REALLY excited about some future improvements that they are making, specifically collaborative libraries.  I don’t know a single academic that writes alone all the time.  I’m sure there are some, but most everyone has at least a few collaborative projects. 

My adviser and I write extensively together, and frankly have wasted hours/days syncing up our Endnotes libraries.  Between duplicate entries with just enough differences to not be found (or typos) to missing or double PDFs, the process has bordered on manual. 

Once Zotero supports collaborative libraries (imminent this fall they say) it will become the killer app.  It will have surpassed all comparable products by allowing people to work together seamlessly on joint papers.  Integrate it with something like Google Docs (which allows for shared documents) and working together will become painless and faster.