How to use Zotero


For the class I am teaching called Instructional Technology, the learners have to write a literature review. One of the tools I use to support my research and academic writing is called Zotero. I am encouraging them to use this tool for their paper preparation. To help them get a jump start on using the tool, I created a video walking them through the program. Here is that tutorial: Read more

Accessing Zotero from an iPad? It’s now possible.


As many of you already know, I am a huge fan of Zotero. I announced when they created access from browsers other than FireFox, and I also announced when they created a standalone client for the desktop. Well, there is now an iPad app that allows you to access Zotero, it is called ZotPad. From a preliminary assessment of the application, I already like it. Read more

7 Essential Back to College Applications

Well, at the University of Wyoming, courses are in full session. With that in mind, here are my recommendations for applications that I believe all students should have close at hand. These applications were chosen based on versatility and accessibility. All of these applications and Web programs can be reached from desktop computers as well as mobile devices. Personally, I would recommend loading the applications on all your devices so you can reach them from home, work, school, and on the road. Read more

My recommendations for a successful dissertation

Dr. Craig Shepherd and Stan Skrabut
Dr. Craig Shepherd and Stan Skrabut

Last month, I successfully completed and defended my dissertation. As my committee members repeated over and over, “The best dissertation is a completed dissertation.” Mine went so smoothly, compared to the stories I had heard from others, that I thought I had done something wrong. Here are some of my thoughts on why I believe it went so smoothly.

Know what you are getting into

Let’s begin by pointing out the obvious — I had never written a dissertation before. Fortunately, many others had. If I was to be successful, I had to figure out the process, and I started this understanding well before I even wrote one word on my dissertation.

I am not comfortable walking into a situation cold, and like to have a thorough understanding of what I am doing before I start. I began by searching Google for any insight I could find. I collected a few articles; these articles gave me some tips to my success.

Additionally, I picked up a couple of books that talked about the process. Two that I recommend are Surviving Your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process and Demystifying Dissertation Writing: A Streamlined Process from Choice of Topic to Final Text. These books helped me understand how to narrow my research topic, how to address the literature review, and how to continue writing to completion. Read more

My 10 Favorite Google Chrome Extensions

This is another tool review that is part of Jane Hart’s 10 Tool Challenge. In this post, I will briefly talk about a series of tools that I use on a daily basis. Basically, they are my Google Chrome extensions.

Google Chrome is my browser of choice; it is fast, and it has given me minimal problems. However, there are times when I wish that Chrome had a specific capability, and that is where the extensions come to play. With extensions, I can add non-native features to Chrome or add capabilities of other programs such as Evernote or Diigo.

Google Chrome has a library of extensions that you can easily add to your browser. I, typically, find extensions through recommendations found in tweets and blog posts. If I try them and find them useful, I will keep them and install them on all my computers as well as share the find with others. Here are extensions that I am currently using:

AutoPagerizeAutopagerize is a great little find that has saved me time as I browse through Web sites. Basically, if the page extends to an additional page, AutoPagerize will append the pages to create a single scrolling page. This has been great as I review my Diigo lists or Google searches. – If I am working with long links, the tool allows me to create shortened customized links with one click that I can share with others. It is connected with my account.

ClearlyClearly strips away ads and unnecessary menus from Web-based articles to make them cleaner to print as well as save to Evernote. Clearly also has a text to speech capability.

Diigo Web Collector – This is my most used tool. I use the Diigo Web Collector to bookmark Web pages I feel are useful. With the Diigo Web Collector, you can also annotate and highlight Web pages. New features make it easy for you to share a page by email, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

Evernote Clipper – With Evernote Web Clipper, you can capture and send to Evernote — images, URLs, parts of a Web page, PDF documents, or the entire Web page. I have been using this tool with increasing regularity, especially, if I need only part of a Web page.

Google Reader Notifier – The Google Reader Notifier simply lets me know if I have any articles to read in Google Reader, and it opens up Google Reader automatically when I click on it.

IE Tab – Basically, the IE Tab let’s you emulate an IE browser. Unfortunately, I still run into a couple of pages that were designed specifically for IE.

Hootsuite Hootlet – The Hootsuite Hootlet will let you quickly send a message to your social media channels, e.g., Twitter and Facebook with the content from the page you are currently viewing. This lets you easily share content without leaving the page. 

Save to Google Drive – The Save to Google Drive extension allows me to save Web-based content to my Google Drive with a right click of my mouse. I can save images, text, URLs, audio and video files, etc. If you save an entire page, you can save it in raw format or as a Google Document.

Zotero Connector – Finally, the Zotero Connector allows me to save research finds to Zotero. When I am looking through our University library, I can save the results directly to Zotero. This has made researching easier and more accurate.

Well, this is my list of favorite extensions for Google Chrome. If you have a favorite extension you can not live without, please let me know.

Kindle and Zotero, a great match


Zotero is one of those power tools; especially, if you are doing research. I started using Zotero a couple of years ago to support my doc program. It has been a great place to collect my notes for my dissertation, which I hope to have completed by June. But I also use Zotero to collect notes on everything I read. These notes have been useful when I need to support a position, write a blog post, or a number of other writing projects.

With Zotero, I am building a notes library that I can easily search. Naturally, the larger the library is, the more value it has. In a previous post, Build your own library: What we can learn from Jefferson and Franklin, I commented on the libraries that Jefferson and Franklin created. They were constantly researching and writing, and the world benefited from their knowledge. I see Zotero as a modern tool to support researching and writing.

KindleI, like many other people, have started to do more reading on devices such as the Kindle or Nook. According to Pew Internet, “A fifth of American adults have read an e-book in the past year and the number of e-book readers grew after a major increase in ownership of e-book reading devices and tablet computers during the holiday gift-giving season.” I personally do a lot more reading, thanks to the Kindle application for my iPad. I currently have 49 books on my iPad with about 10 books waiting to be read. The biggest obstacle was getting notes from the ebook to Zotero.

I recently saw a video showing how to move notes from Kindle to Evernote, another great note taking program. Here is that video:

I am pleased to say that the same process works for moving notes from Kindle to Zotero. The key URL to keep in mind is; it is your Kindle highlights, notes, and bookmarks.

When you bring your notes into Zotero, you may have to clean them up a bit, especially when the notes cross pages in the book. They will have to be merged.

Each note will have the location available  for the specific quote. You will also have to keep in mind that the highlights brought in are actual quotes from the book.

Discovering this process has made gathering notes and quotes so much faster allowing me to focus on writing, research, and creating instead of transcribing. I will certainly be purchasing more ebooks in the future.