Managing your online research

Using a free web based tool such as Zotero can add greatly to the effectiveness of your research activities

An example of both Zotero and OpenURL referrer...
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I expect I am no different to millions of users out there on the web conducting my own research & learning.  I have many avenues for reaearch:

  • meet with experts,
  • read books,
  • participate in various groups (e.g. through linkedindin, facebook, etc.),
  • follow certain users (twitter),
  • subscribe to various blogs,
  • subscibe to somesome sites for paid content,
  • read various journals online,
  • aggregate/ read various blogs (via google),
  • use search engines, access wikipedia, etc.

I publish various thoughts/ ideas ( and engage in dialog arising from feedback.

Initially I was probably a hoarder – a modern day ‘newspaper cuttings’ man.  Not surprising really – would have grown up in an environment where people maintained files of newspaper cuttings (when this service was not available ubiquitously and cheaply) – in fact probably goes back to my own days as a kid when we used to keep albums of photos and newspaper articles about our favourite football team.

Then you realise you do not need to hoard – generally the ‘links’ suffice.  And there are many products to assist in this e.g. and

However I have struggled with the tagging and the number of related and interrelated fields in which I am directly interested e.g. cloud computing, web 2.0, web 3.0, venture capital, etc.  I also struggled with the note taking etc. related to specific articles I had read.

Recently I was introduced to  To quote the site: ‘Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources. It lives right where you do your work—in the web browser itself.’

Have not yet come  to any final conclusions.  But is it certainly a stepup for me – in supporting my research and writing activities.  May not be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ – for instance I have not thought through implications for some of my collaborative activities.

I would not claim to be any authority on bibliography type thinking – nor on the merits of zotero versus any other products (free or paid) in the space.  But for anyone like me, who may not have tried any such product to date, would strongly recommend taking a look.

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Author: Barry OGorman

Barry O'Gorman is an independent business and IT consultant, based in Dublin, Ireland.

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