Monday, 9 August 2010

Thing 18 Zoh-tair-oh

Mr Priestner is definitely wrong about how to pronounce Zotero.

The saga of' Zotero - promoting a tool to students to help them manage their information.
My Endnote and Endnote Web training sessions have faltered at the point where my own experience with referencing differed to that of an Arts student. I'm a social scientist and had never taught students who needed to use footnotes - which is what Arts students use in Cambridge. Imagine the frustration that the only way to use Endnote and footnotes satisfactorily together meant that a specially designed 'style' was required - I eventually discovered that UCS had created one; one which allowed a footnote to be edited as much as one pleased. I had been promoting Endnote Web but realised that this was even more frustrating for Arts students as they have minute, but essential changes to make to ANY style. Endnote Web does not allow self-editing of bibliographic styles. Students were not happy with making the changes to their footnotes/bibliographies at a later stage.

I had looked at Zotero before this but an English PhD student who was using Zotero enthused about it and I looked at it again and decided that it could be promoted alongside Endnote and give students an option. This tactic has gone down quite well and there seem to be those who will veer towards one or the other quite naturally. I have now taken to facilitating a session and, after putting the use of software into context, ask current enthusiasts to come and demonstrate what they do.

The distinct advantage of Zotero is that if you use it to cite-while-you-write you can edit footnotes as you go along! It is not so easy to edit the bibliographic style - at least you need a little bit of technie-ness to do this. It seems to be hard to find the ideal solution.

I am creating a Learning Hub for online 'help' for the Library and will include Zotero:

The Zotero guides at Georgia State University are excellent.

As for the other idea that I had - that of setting up a Group Library for Faculty reading lists - well, not sorted yet but I have 8 more days of Library closure and it's on the list to play with..............


  1. A group library for faculty reading lists seems an excellent idea, especially for College Librarians (or allowing Librarians access to the Camtools pages as with Divinity)

  2. Yes, indeed, reading lists on Zotero sounds like a great idea.

    I've never tried Endnote, and, being an artsy-citations-in-footnotes type (can't live without footnotes) I'm glad that I haven't. Thanks for the tip to stay away.

  3. EndNote web doesn't let you customise output styles, but you shouldn't have any difficulty editing styles to make footnote citations look the way they want with EndNote Desktop.

    Just change the footnote style option to "footnote format" and edit the footnote citation templates the same way you'd edit the bibliography layout.

  4. Maybe the latest version of Endnote has improved footnote editing which is a very good thing. The version I initially taught on didn't allow for editing 'as-you-go' - you could only make the changes after the document was complete. I shall explore again! Thanks.

  5. just to clarify - one of the big advantages of Zotero's citation styles, written in the .csl language, is that they allow you to specify if a style is a footnote or an in-text style.
    Whereas with Endnote you would, for a footnote style, first insert a footnote in Word/Ooo and then a citation with Endnote, with Zotero you just insert a citation and Zotero will insert the footnote for you.

    This has a number of advantages, the biggest one is that you can switch seamlessly from footnoted to author-date styles. In my discipline (political science) the top journals are about 50/50 split between the two, so this is quite important. I recently had a paper rejected from an footnote journal and it took me one click and 15 mins of light editing to get it in shape for an author-date journal.
    In endnote you would have to copy and paste every single citation out of the footnote and then delete the footnote, which is about as much works as putting all the citations in again.

  6. great help - thanks!
    BUT can you sort out the other issue that I have with Zotero- easy editing of a style?? My users definitely do not use one style absolutely as it is and like to edit to make it do what they want. I found the documentation for doing this and put it to one side........for when I was feeling stronger!

  7. This is where easier style edits will be possible - looks like it's gotten quite far:

    That said, I think you should discourage users from _wanting_ to edit their own styles. People underestimate all the little things that go into a style - it's quite tricky to avoid having two spaces or two periods when one of your fields (like "series" or so) is empty and the list goes on. Much better to rely on one of the carefully written and tested styles that already exist.
    The only exception are journal requirements - and for those you can already post a request on the Zotero forums which is frequently met in a short period of time.