at The Evergreen State College


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Zotero is a free, open sourced bibliographic manager. It is currently the service favored at Evergreen. It was developed by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.

Zotero is an easy-to-use yet powerful research tool that helps you gather, organize, and analyze sources (citations, full texts, web pages, images, and other objects), and lets you share the results of your research in a variety of ways. An extension to the popular open-source web browser Firefox, Zotero includes the best parts of older reference manager software (like EndNote) — the ability to store author, title, and publication fields and to export that information as formatted references—and the best parts of modern software and web applications (like iTunes and, such as the ability to interact, tag, and search in advanced ways. Zotero integrates tightly with online resources; it can sense when users are viewing a book, article, or other object on the web, and—on many major research and library sites—find and automatically save the full reference information for the item in the correct fields. Since it lives in the web browser, it can effortlessly transmit information to, and receive information from, other web services and applications; since it runs on one’s personal computer, it can also communicate with software running there (such as Microsoft Word). And it can be used offline as well (e.g., on a plane, in an archive without WiFi).

Zotero and Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters owns EndNote, a bibliographic management software with propriatary codes. The company decided to sue George Mason University, where Zotero originated, because Thomson Reuters believed that Zotero was using EndNote's citation style and converting it into citation style language. It was believed that this was being done by language specifically designed to undermine the content and export style of EndNote. The entire lawsuit boils down to a file format conversion and further begs the question of intellectual property vs. individual freedom. The file format conversion could have easily been managed manually or through a third party application, and because Zotero is open source, someone simply edited the software to fit their best use.

Building Digital Histories