Citation managers organize your research and generate bibliographies. UW-Madison students, faculty and staff have ready access to several citation managers via the campus Libraries web page. The software you utilize for creating a citation database depends on your research habits as well as your need to share work with colleagues.
For the past year, Law Library staff have been using Zotero. It is a free, open source extension that resides on your Firefox browser. One of Zotero's bibliographic output styles includes the Harvard Bluebook, making it an invaluable resource tool for legal researchers.
Zotero is user-friendly and looks similar to iTunes. The interface consists of three sections. One section displays your research folders or collections; another section lists all the bibliographic citations you have collected; the third section highlights the metadata associated with an individual citation. Capturing cites from books, journal articles, blogs, etc. is quite simple with Zotero. It then stores these PDFs, images, links, web pages and files in the research folders you designate. Information can be tagged with any key word or term you deem relevant and then Zotero's search functionality will locate these items in your collections. Another great feature is the plug-in capability with Microsoft Word to generate bibliographies from your Zotero research folders.
A recent Beta release now allows users to automatically synchronize Zotero collections among multiple computers. For example, sync your Zotero library from your work desktop with your MAC laptop or your computer at home.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is even better, check out this screencast introducing some of the features available on Zotero.
Consult the Zotero web page for downloading instructions and see if this application works for you. For more information on choosing a citation manager see the detailed Comparison Chart prepared by the campus General Library System.
Submitted by Cheryl O'Connor on March 12, 2009
This article appears in the categories: Law Library/IT