Literature review is a big part of a scientific underatkening. Thanks to the Internet, most papers are available on line. This resulted (at least for me) in a big number of papers that I read and stored for feature references… Welcome to the age of data mining. As a researcher I have yet another problem on my hands: after I solved the problem of finding information, how do I keep track of it?
This subject was touched upon in other posts (bookmarking, mind maps, references). Given that my major focus of attention (at this moment) is my disertation, I want to be able to have a solution for referencing the information I have found. This basically has some sub-problems: creating references, searching through references, adding them to my documents (thesis, publications, reports), and creating list of references in my documents. I’ll skip discussion of why I was not satisfied with the above mentioned tools. Instead I’ll tell you what I see myself using: Zotero.
Long story short, this is a common scenario: I found a paper using Google Scholar (acm/ieee/etc). Two clicks and my reference is created (with all the author, title, abstract, etc. information added properly). Another click and I’m actually reading the paper. One last click and the pdf is stored with my reference (for feature review). If I found something interesting I can add notes. I can tag the reference (for feature searches). I also can link other references as related. The bottom line: creation of references is a smooth, easy and quick process.
There are plugins for OpenOffice.org Writer and Microsoft Word that allows one to use Zotero reference in the documents. The process of adding references to the text and creating refere lists is a two click deal (also smooth and quick). Installation of both plugins (for firefox and for Writer) was very simple.
For more information take a Zotero tour.