Zotero is a free, open-source research tool that helps you collect, organize, and analyze research and share it in a variety of ways. Zotero includes the best parts of older reference manager software — the ability to store author, title, and publication fields and to export that information as formatted references — and the best aspects of modern software and web applications, such as the ability to organize, tag, and search in advanced ways. Zotero interacts seamlessly with online resources: when it senses you are viewing a book, article, or other object on the web, it can automatically extract and save complete bibliographic references. Zotero effortlessly transmits information to and from other web services and applications, and it runs both as a web service and offline on your personal devices. (Zotero website, November 7, 2023)
A citation manager is a software program that collects bibliographic information (meaning the information you would use to cite a source) and helps you store, organize, and create bibliographies, such as Works Cited Pages or Reference Lists. Using a citation manager is particularly helpful when working on a large scale project, such as an end of semester paper or dissertation/thesis.
Citation managers, like Zotero, are immensely helpful when working on an in-depth research project. Research is a process that often has unexpected twists and turns, and it can be difficult to keep track of your research.
Citation managers solve the problem of losing track of your research because they allow you to save sources as you go along without having to keep a separate document for tracking your search results. Better yet, citation managers also keep your sources organized by folder (if you so choose!), and when you are ready to create your Works Cited or Reference page, you can easily do so by having the citation manager generate it for you.
However, citation managers aren't perfect, so it's always recommended that you confirm your citations are formatted in accordance with the appropriate citation style.
The librarians at Jones Library recommend using Zotero because, unlike other citation managers, it is a completely free program!
Zotero also has several features that will make your research a breeze. For instance, the plugins for your Internet browsers (like Chrome, Firefox, or Microsoft Edge) allow you to add sources to your Zotero library as you do your research.
Additionally, if you download a word processor plugin, like one for Microsoft Word, you can add sources from Zotero as in-text citations, footnotes, or add them directly to your Works Cited or reference list as you go along. If you get stuck using Zotero, there's also several helpful resources available to guide you through your research.