Use Zotero better
June 22, 2011 6:08 PM   Subscribe

How can I use Zotero better?

I have a moderately sized Zotero library (610) items and add more things every day. How can I maximize my use of this reference manager?

I currently import citations from places like Google Scholar and PubMed, save PDFs on my hard drive in various folders and link them in Zotero. I also use the Notes for documents extensively, mostly to copy/paste useful quotes, make little notes that are helpful to me, and to copy citations for other things I need to read that have been cited in the article. When I'm writing, I'll often have trouble remembering where I read something, so I'll use the "search" function in Zotero to find the thing I'm looking for. I use collections to manage articles about similar topics, which is helpful when I'm writing.

I still feel like there is a lot more I could be doing with Zotero, but don't know how to integrate these things into my workflow. What more can I do with Zotero, and how can I make my use of it more effective?
posted by k8lin to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I've moved to Mendeley because of the social aspect of it.
posted by k8t at 6:37 PM on June 22, 2011

Have you posed these questions in the Zotero forum?
posted by jgirl at 6:39 PM on June 22, 2011

New from ACRL: "Zotero: A Guide for Librarians, Researchers and Educators"
posted by Blake at 3:08 AM on June 23, 2011

Best answer: Your school may offer you WebDAV space; if so syncing attached files is excellent. I've found that tags are crucial and often better than sub-collections. As I'm working on a paper I tag everything that I'm going to cite, so that I can export the set of cited items quickly.

The thing that Mendeley and Papers have going for them is great ipad / iphone integration. Zotero has a web interface of modest utility, but which doesn't do anything for off-line use. Of course, on a laptop / win / linux tablet off-line Zotero is great.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:38 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Zotero website has a useful sub-section "Using Zotero" under the 'Support' dropdown that might contain some material to augment your current strategies.
posted by davemack at 3:33 AM on June 24, 2011

Response by poster: a robot made out of meat, how do you tag? I don't mean literally (I know how to add tags) but what kind of things do you tag with? How do you ensure that you're using a controlled vocabulary? Any tips about how you actually go about the process of tagging?
posted by k8lin at 4:06 PM on June 24, 2011

Well, for a paper it'll be something like lassopaper. For the rest it's just like overlapping collections to me (you can also put an item in multiple collections). I don't really know how I come up with controlled vocab. I guess since I'm rarely working on more than two or three papers it's easy to keep track of. The tag search isn't discrete items only, you can search with the full range of options (contains:paper contains:lasso) if that helps.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:17 PM on June 24, 2011

If you want a desktop client, you can also have Mendeley read your Zotero DB and import information from it. The process is described here. I work for Mendeley, so if you have any questions about how to get that going, feel free to ask.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 12:08 PM on July 7, 2011

k8tlin - as far as tagging goes, I don't really bother about using a controlled vocabulary. I just tag liberally and let the tags overlap in a venn diagram-like fashion. Using the same version of a tag is important, like always using the singular or plural form, but beyond that I don't worry too much.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 12:10 PM on July 7, 2011

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