Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wherefore art thou Zotero?

Zotero!  This bit of web wizardry seems eminently practical.  It's something I would really want to use.  I hate creating citations!  I hate trying to keep track of a million disparate sources online while I'm trying to craft a paper!  This will save me much time!

Only I can't get it to work right.

Is it just me?  What am I doing wrong here?  After I installed it (forced to use firefox, btw, which is not my browser of choice, but I can deal), I went to Amazon to test it out, since the tutorial thingy prominently featured that site.  I tried to save an entry for Towers of Midnight (yeah, as if I'm ever going to lose track of that book in my brain-stacks, but this is an exercise, dammit), and it ended up giving me...a blank zotero thingy.  Nada in there.  Okay, so maybe there are some issues with Amazon.  I'll try Google Books!  Less capitalism, more open access, or whatever.  We were just exploring it in my class today.  Perfect.  So I pull up Richard III and presto, I save it to zotero!  Only, wait.  it has listed as its title the following: "King Richard III - a tragedy in five acts - William Shakespeare - Google books."  That isn't the title.  That's the title, plus the author, plus the source.  It's not helpful at all to have all that crap lumped together and leave their appropriate slots blanks down below.  Am I expected to fill the info in myself?  Hardly seems likely.  And it won't even let me copy-paste from the title field, soooo...

I tried with Frankenstein too, just to see.  Same problem.  So then I went to see what it would do with a database entry.  Jstor hoooo, gimme something onnn---oh heck, it's October, let's search for Bram Stoker.  Okay great, here are some articles.  Zotero, do your thing, and--nup.  no good.  For the title, it lists JSTOR and the source journal.  i thought the point was to save citations for individual articles--right?  Am I doing something wrong?  I thought I did what the tutorial video guy told me to.  Shall I just blame firefox?

The worst was when I tried to save articles on the digital divide from some library database or another.  Zotero didn't even respond.  Just ignored me.  it continues to ignore me.  I really want zotero to work as I enter the paper-writing season, but it doesn't seem to like me.  any pointers?  I'll keep messing with it in the light of day, but for now it's a no-go....

UPDATE:  I think I figured it out! <3 you, Zotero....


  1. I had trouble with it too because it would pull incorrect data. For instance, I searched a few articles in the databases through UB Libraries and tried to use Zotero. It kept messing up the information...the title, page numbers, publication. As though it pulled the information from a completely different source. Which lets me know to make sure I check the information its collecting...then I suppose that complicates something that's meant to be easy to use.

  2. yeah, i'm not getting it. now all the full text links i saved yesterday direct me to a database search results page. not actually helpful!!!

  3. I also had trouble with Zorero, I feel it is more a good idea then a currently operating machine. I would like to see it optimized a bit before I trusted it to make my citations for me.

  4. I am new to Zotero as well. Watched the main tutorial twice and am still trying to figure the whole thing out! Hopefully, maybe over Thanksgiving break, I can sit down and see everything it has to offer. There isn't enough time at the moment to invest in this!

  5. I recommend easybib to my students; it is waaaay easy, indeed, though I'm not sure if it offers as much [potential] functionality as Zotero--anyone want to compare them?