Thursday, September 20, 2007

EndNote Alternative

I've been a fan of EndNote since I discovered it about 3/4 of the way through my undergraduate career. It's a great tool to keep all your notes about a particular project or all the research you've ever conducted in one place. That it can help you build bibliographies is just icing on the cake, in my opinion. Oh, and for those of you who don't know, you can download EndNote for free from Emory's software servers.

I just discovered a new Firefox-based alternative to EndNote, however: Zotero. It serves most of the functions of EndNote, except that it works within your browser and can automatically create records from many of the pages you're looking at (like the Emory Library Catalog or subscription databases like JSTOR). You can also export your bibliographies into documents.

The next version of the software will allow you to share files/references with others/groups of scholars and even use RSS feeds to get the latest information that, say, the Nineteenth-Century Fiction Association might want to make available to its members.

This looks like a really interesting tool. You can watch a video tour of it here. It's a project supported by, among others, the Mellon Foundation, so you can trust its credentials in that sense.

At the moment I see two drawbacks:
  1. Firefox only
  2. It's based in the browser and NOT in an online account. What this means is that if I use a computer at Emory for my library, it won't be on my computer at home. Of course, it's very easy to export the files. But it would be nice if you could log in to your Zotero account on matter where you were on earth.
Still, this is a good sign of technology to come to help us become more effective researchers.

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