Friday, September 21, 2007

EndNote Alternative

I've been a fan of EndNote since I discovered it about 3/4 of the way through my undergraduate career. It's a great tool to keep all your notes about a particular project or all the research you've ever conducted in one place. That it can help you build bibliographies is just icing on the cake, in my opinion. Oh, and for those of you who don't know, you can download EndNote for free from Emory's software servers.

I just discovered a new Firefox-based alternative to EndNote, however: Zotero. It serves most of the functions of EndNote, except that it works within your browser and can automatically create records from many of the pages you're looking at (like the Emory Library Catalog or subscription databases like JSTOR). You can also export your bibliographies into documents.

The next version of the software will allow you to share files/references with others/groups of scholars and even use RSS feeds to get the latest information that, say, the Nineteenth-Century Fiction Association might want to make available to its members.

This looks like a really interesting tool. You can watch a video tour of it here. It's a project supported by, among others, the Mellon Foundation, so you can trust its credentials in that sense.

At the moment I see two drawbacks:
  1. Firefox only.
  2. It's based in the browser and NOT in an online account. What this means is that if I use a computer at Emory for my library, it won't be on my computer at home. Of course, it's very easy to export the files. But it would be nice if you could log in to your Zotero account on matter where you were on earth. Hopefully this is something they will think about including in the new version of the plugin.
Still, this is a good sign of technology to come to help us become more effective researchers.


Wayne said...

Nice finding an alternative to a "for fee" software. It also works in Flock (a social web browser). Take a look at Flock and see how a browser that provides multiple capabilities for social software apps (a mash-up) looks.

Wayne said...
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Brian said...

I was signed up for the beta of Flock, but never got around to installing it and playing with it. I'll have to take it for a spin now that it's more put together.

On that note, you should check out Songbird as a media player that integrates social computing.