Today, I discovered an amazing research tool that I wish I had while I was still an undergrad. It’s called zotero. The software is a tool that allows for more efficient research by making it easier to capture sources online in an iTunes style database. Think Filemaker except zotero would be the happier, better looking, sibling.
The program is a browser plug-in, that, with the click of a mouse (or trackpad or ipad…), allows you to grab bibliographic information of a site, take snap shots of blocks of text, or download entire PDF files. This data can then be organized in a searchable database that can be divided up into various folders based on subject, date, etc. Then, when it’s time to write, you can drag and drop bibliographic data into your reference section, or even plop quotes into the body of your text. Whenever you come across something interesting or useful just save it to the database and with time you may have a vast amount of data to work with (or just a lot of articles on pirates). It’s also possible to share databases online with other zotero users who may be working on the same project.
Unfortunately, at this point in the program’s development, zotero is not compatible with Westlaw and Lexis. According to their forum, however, it looks like Westlaw and Lexis support is something the developers would like to work toward making possible soon. In the mean time, this seems like a great non-Wexis research tool that can be used to replace note cards, notebooks, and anything else people use to take and compile notes with.