Zotero: Double-entry research for the 21st century

If any of you have read any of Bruce Ballenger‘s books (he’s the Chair of the English Department at Boise State), then you know about his double-entry research system. Basically, it involves doing research on paper that is divided into two columns. The left-hand column is where you record the useful information and actual quotations along with the resource information for citing, and the right-hand side is for your comments, insights, reactions. (More about how to do this). Essentially, you are writing your paper on the right-hand side as you do your research. His book, The Curious Researcher, has been updated over the years, but this is where I remember reading about his double-entry system.

So . . . you can imagine my excitement when I found what I believe to be one of the best programs that not only uses Ballenger’s basic strategy, but includes so many tools and sharing capabilities that it might be the all-inclusive research and writing tool. It’s called zotero, and I REALLY encourage you to go online, watch the video, download the program and play with it. I have NOT done any work with it, but it looks like the best thing for students and faculty to use to write research papers that I’ve ever seen.

Essentially, it’s a Firefox plugin that installs on your browser. After you install it, you’ll see “zotero” on the lower right hand bar of your browser. You click that to open it and can start adding resources, comments, organizing your bibliography, exporting to Word or Open Office, blogs . . . I won’t go into the details here, just go to the website and read about it. Then, let me know what you are finding out about it and let me know if I really should be this excited about it.

Have a great day.


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