Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources. It runs on Mac, Windows and Linux as a standalone application. Zotero can also synchronize and keep a copy of your library on its servers, so that you can access your citations from multiple computers and devices. It can also store notes and copies of pdfs or web pages along with citations, so it can be used as a research management tool as well.
Optional but highly recommended: If you want to use Zotero from more than one computer or to use shared libraries and groups, make an account on zotero.org. [Register link on the upper right hand corner of www.zotero.org]
Start by building your research library
Add an article to your Zotero library by navigating to the library catalog or website that hosts the resource and clicking on the yellow (or grey) folder icon. It will appear somewhere on the top of your screen, depending on your computer.
Zotero can find research articles on the page and will ask you what articles you’d like to save to your collection.
After you add citations to Zotero, you should find these citation entries in your Zotero application.
Organize your citations
Now that you have collected a few articles, you can get organized. Click the folder icon on the upper left hand of your screen to create a new collection. Drag and drop the relevant articles into that folder.
Consider adding notes to save your ideas about articles. You can write a note and drag the note under the relevant article.
Add tags to your research to easily search themes in your collection. Say, for example, you've created folders to organize documents from each of your courses in Sociology, English, and Math. But you'd like to link all the citations that relate to "climate." You can create a tag called "climate" and that will link all of these articles together. You can then run a global search for "climate" and find all the citations you tagged as "climate."
Collaborate with your colleagues
Collaborate with others by joining groups or creating your own. Try creating a new group and adding one of your colleagues. You can change the privacy settings to allow for people to join your group or hide your group from others. This group will appear in your Zotero application under "Group Libraries." The group is essentially a shared folder so that you and your colleagues can share resources.
For more information on Grouping see the Zotero Quick Start documentation.
You can use Zotero to add properly formatted citations in footnotes and bibliographies in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.