This manual contains:
- Why Zotero is so useful for writing a dissertation
- How to install Zotero
- How to collect websites, pdf files, and an interface for adding books to a bibliography
- How to organize by adding a collection at the Zotero Library interface screen
- How to cite references
- How to share citations and references;namely, how to insert the material into the Word document you are using to write your dissertation
- How to select the right style manual when Zotero offers over 500 options
- Ongoing discussion of related observations–provided in the form of notes marked as such. An item marked Note may distract the reader from the central focus of this user guide. Nonetheless, I hope each Note provides information you find useful.
- Zotero also helps navigate in the Cloud.
Eccentric Zotero user guide–Beta version
Why Zotero is so useful for writing a dissertation
I have not been able to find documentation which teaches me how to use Zotero. Zotero is an effective but complicate tool that removes the grunt work– notably citations and bibliographies-involved with writing a dissertation.
I am writing this manual to help me master Zotero for a technical paper I am completing. I am trying to master Zotero because it will help me complete my technical report. My experience using software to automate dissertation writing; primarily dissertation, but also other academic writing such as articles for the Journal of Electrical Engineering or technical reports for Dr. Ali Memari’s Penn State’s Housing Research Center.
Several years ago, I worked with Dr. Somali Kumar on her dissertation entitled:
Professor John Messner first introduced me to Zotero.
This guide is directed specifically to graduate students at Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineer. This is my effort to help you learn quickly, this program for automating citations and inserting them into your documents can make your life much easier.
Zotero is the oldest and most popular software for relieving graduate students from the most tedious part of their work. Several graduate students who used End Note for bibliography and were unhappy at the experience. Joche Astro J. Gayles, who recently received her doctorate from Penn States’ Department of Home Development & Family Standards (HDFP), said that she “. The best example of Zotero’s virtue is its ability to insert citations according to style manuals. Worth noting: Case in point:
Penn State libraries resources for mastering Zotero
Here is a quick example of the resources the library provides
Seek and you shall find
“As an academic writer, I always prided myself on my technical savvy. Until recently, I believed that I had developed a sophisticated system of bookmarks, email messages to myself, word documents, and the like to save useful references, citations, and other resources that I felt were essential to my clinical and academic productivity. In my system, I would manually save portable document format (PDF) files by manually typing in the title of the article, the journal it was published in, and the year of publication. However, I recently discovered a freely available computer software called Zotero that has made my life easier and my so-called “sophisticated” system obsolete.”
–Zotero: Reviewed by Thomas E. Vanhecke, MD
Angela’s Davis’ email with link to Zotero tutorials
Thanks for the question you asked via the Ask A Librarian system. I wanted to introduce myself as the librarian specialist for Architectural Engineering.
I would be more than happy to assist you in using the library. And would love to meet with you and discuss the ways that the library could help you, but I have found that these work best if you have a specific research project you are would like assistance with. I am also available for help via email or phone, for any questions you may have. Please contact me in whichever way is most comfortable for you.
If you would like a basic overview of how to navigate library resources, the Online Tutorials page is an excellent starting place. These are geared towards undergraduates but they provide the basics that everyone can use.
Please let me know how I could be of assistance to you and I look forward to working with you in the future,
A sneak peak at how select the right style manual
At the Zotero home page library, I chose an item and inserted it into the style manual for the American Psychological Association, the style manual I recommend for graduate students at Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineering.
Be there or be square
Note: Confession makes good pedagogy. For simplicity, I use the word “dissertation” as shorthand for a range of academic publications including articles for the Journal of Architectural Engineering. My confession refers to the technical report I am completing (having procrastinated ) for publication for the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center (PHRC).
Using Zotero will help me complete my project. By extension I hope these step-by-step instructions for using Zotero will help speed completion of your dissertation.] Zotero can also help you navigate The Cloud.
Your home in Zotero is this interface screen that appears immediately after login
Zotero has four applications
- Collecting articles, web pages, books, and other references
- Organizing, reading, and making notes of the collected material
- Citing the collected material in one’s own writing.
- Sharing, as in inserting Zotero citations into your dissertation when you are writing it using Microsoft Word.
You can access Zotero from web browsers and Windows, Apple, and Unix operating systems; hence this cautionary slogan
As with the motto on the Great Seal of the United States, there are many ways to get to the Zotero interface. These methods include, but are not limited to:
- Add-on to the Firefox browser
- Add-on (plug-in [query: documentation uses add-ons and plug-ins interchangeably; is this correct?]) for Chrome and other browsers
- Standalones for Unix, GNU/Linux and Mac OS
- Available features include the ability–while writing your dissertation–to download citations into Microsoft Word
What to do when you reach the basic Zotero interface, Basic level.
What matters most–that is what makes your life easiest–is not the multiple options, but rather what to do when you reach the basic Zotero interface, here at log-in, now twice in this posting to increase your familiarity with your essential home screen:
Application 1: COLLECTING
Six methods for incorporating material into your Zotero library
To simplify, arbitrarily I have chosen to provide examples from Zotero standalone downloaded onto Windows 7 and linked to Chrome. This involved:
- From Chrome, I keyed in Zotero at the Google prompt which directed me to this download page.
2. Zotero standalone shortcut on my messy desktop
3. Clicking on the shortcut brings you here
Using the Zotero connector to collect websites, books, articles, pdf files, and what have you
Zotero’s explanation of how the connector collects
Zotero has three basic capturing tools.
- URL with Zotero login
- Left mouse clip providing menu item “Add to Zotero”
- Manual insert books etc. into Zotero’s home page
Application 2: ORGANIZING
The first step in organizing is to add a collection to the Zotero library.
Application 3: CITING
Application 4: SHARING
See Zotero documentation of sharing
“Citations and bibliographies generated by the word processor plugins might appear in a different style (font, font-size, etc) than the surrounding text. The appearance of the generated text can be changed by changing the default style. E.g. in LibreOffice, open the styles manager in ‘Format’ > ‘Styles and Formatting‘ or by hitting F12. Right click on Default, select ‘Modify‘, and make the desired changes to this style.”
It always helps (I find) to put work into a larger perspective
That way, I do not become overwhelming by the seriousness of my efforts. As you labor away at the process of receiving a doctorate, you might find comfort in the legendary William James‘ 1903 classic critique of the process in which you are currently engaged: The Ph.D. Octopus.
“Some years ago, we had at our Harvard Graduate School a very brilliant student of Philosophy, who…received an appointment to teach English Literature at a sister-institution of learning. The governors of this institution, however, had no sooner communicated the appointment than they made the awful discovery that they had enrolled upon their staff a person who was unprovided with the Ph.D. degree…
“His appointment had thus been made under a misunderstanding. He was not the proper man; and there was nothing to do but inform him of the fact… [O]ur Subject, being a man of spirit, took up the challenge… grinding his psychology, logic, and history of philosophy up again, so as to pass our formidable ordeals. When the thesis came to be read by our committee, we could not pass it. Brilliancy and originality by themselves won’t save a thesis for the doctorate….”
Idiosyncratic footnote section
My preference for footnotes does not diminish the reality that in the Engineering and sciences academic departments footnotes are banned.
Benny Goodman’s clarinet (and of course vocals by Miss Peggy Lee influenced the writing of this post. I am sentimental about the clarinet. Salvatore, my grandfather, played in the clarinet at the orchestra of a silent movie, when my grandmother fell in love with him.
From the album Peggy Lee & Benny Goodman “The Complete Recordings 1941-1947”
This post is copyrighted © 2016 by Joel Solkoff. All rights reserved.