I had a spare hour or so this morning before heading off to Heritage Park in Calgary to ride the steam train with little Silas.  So I decided that it was time to investigate HOW I was going to keep track of any research I came across.  Up until this point, I’ve been  bookmarking any sites.  But a spot to keep the actual text of the article, with a mechanism to help me with citations, seemed like a perfect idea.  Trust me, I need all the help I can get with APA…

Because Refworks was recommended, I started with it.  I created an account, and printed off the start-up guide.  What I wound up with was a confusing 9 pages, and a VERY user unfriendly program.  Or, at least unfriendly to this user.  I couldn’t figure out what to do when I found an article I wanted to keep, and even after reading the user guide, I was still puzzled.  Perhaps a Tuesday morning isn’t my best thinking time.

So then I moved onto Zotero.  I was really hesitant to look at this one, as it only operates in Firefox, and my iPad only has Safari.I really like surfing on that darn thing, but the fact that it is locked down tighter than Alcatraz is seriously annoying at times.   So I finally took at look at Zotero, and was instantly impressed.  I downloaded the software, and now when I surf anything, there’s a little icon on the bottom right of my screen.  If I find an article to keep, I just click on the icon and then follow the super-easy instructions.  I can also create a group and share my findings with others.  I surfed the groups already in existence, and actually found a few article that might be helpful.  I could create my own group, and start collecting research, but the only way others could contribute would be to join the group (and I haven’t figured that part out yet).

The problem with Zotero is that the information is saved to my computer, and that’s it.  So if I was at school and wanted to check something, I couldn’t do it.  There’s no cloud computing here.  Because I have a laptop that I use everywhere, hopefully it won’t be a problem.  And maybe when it is, Zotero will have branched out into the cloud world…

So I am going to try Zotero.  I would love to hear from anyone else who is at this stage to see if you prefer Refworks, or have found another program that works for you.

Now all I have to do is actually START reading…

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