Sunday, December 07, 2008

Zotero - Citation Organisation

Being of a lazy disposition I have been looking for ways to organise my growing list of references and bibliographies. I currently run Word XP, inevitably Microsoft do not have a means of organising citations in this ancient version. I believe there is an option in Word 2007, although it can not cope with Harvard (Author:Date) citations. I tried a third party option Documentit. Downloaded the Trial version and typed in some 20 bibliography citations. Only to discover that the trial version of Documentit will only allow you to download the first 3 citations in your list, bummer! Having just spent 30 mins typing all that in and not to be able to extract the info again is not amusing. Nowhere in the information regarding the trial version is this limitation mentioned. A cheap trick to make me cough up £14.99 for the full version, I think not, why can they not be upfront about the limitations?

Not to be thwarted, I discovered that I could auto transfer the first 3 citations in my the list into my Word document. Then deleted them from DocumentS*it and transferred again. Yes, it worked the next three citations were transferred and adinfinitum until I had copied over all my bibliography citations into a Word document for future use. Not a completely wasted effort but not quite what I was expecting.

What next, well another session with Google dug up an interesting extension for Firefox, Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] claims that it can "help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources" Zotero is an easy-to-use yet powerful research tool that helps to gather, organize, and analyze sources (citations, full texts, web pages, images, and other objects), and lets you share the results of your research in a variety of ways. Interestingly Zotero seems to be in dispute with the owners of Endnote a proprietary citation manager.

The easiest way to collect your bibliography is to find the book in question in Amazon click the Zotera icon in the bottom right hand corner of your browser window and Bingo the full citation is added to your library. I have since found a more useful location for Zotero friendly citations at Worldcat an aggregation site for over 10,000 libraries worldwide. The beauty of this site is you can find the details of out of print books.

Zotero integrates with Microsoft Word or Open Office via a plugin. This places icons in the Word toolbar. To add a citation to a document or essay, place the cursor at the point in the document where you want to add the citation, click add citation icon in the toolbar, the first time you will be asked for the format, choose Harvard, select your citation from the list and click add. The citation will be added thus - (Anfam 1998). at the same time Zotero adds the full citation at the end of the document as an alphabetical list. It has worked for me and saved loads of tedious typing.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Digital Student

Yesterdays Guardian (2nd Dec 08) included a supplement "Digital Student". It contained some useful and interesting stuff. One article that caught my eye about e-portfolios. The article described the use of the webfolio software designed by Pebble Pad. This is a bit like Moodle but more interactive. They cited the work of a mature Fine Art student at University of Wolverhampton (sic) showing some interesting examples from Sally's e-Journal.

The Pebble Pad site contains some interesting stuff including a Power Point presentation about the logic behind their creation. There were also links to other useful sites and info. One being a book Art Spoke, and another being a site dedicated to learning on-line with useful info about essay writing etc . There was a very clear example of citing using the Harvard, Author Date, system.