Miskatonic University Press

Access 2009, Saturday #3: Gwendolyn MacNairn, Zotero: A Better Way to Go?


This was Gwendolyn MacNairn of Dalhousie University talking about research she'd done about students using Zotero. There's no video of the talk up yet, but Peter Zimmerman blogged about it more fully than I do, as he did with all the other talks. My notes:

They do IL for new students in comp sci: Springer, IEE Xplore, Safari, Science Direct, etc. Tell them the importance of academic integrity. It's been a problem for them.

Question: "How do you [the students] organize the information you have collected so that you know exactly what you have and where you got it?"

RefWorks isn't popular with their students. All of the clicking and stuff just to get a list of references out isn't worth it. Too much work, too confusing. So she thought that Zotero might make a difference.

She took ten students, gave them Firefox, had them install Zotero, then gave them a job: pick a subject, find and store four references (an article, a PDF, a blog post, a YouTube video) about it in Zotero, the generate a list of references.

To demonstrate what she wanted, she did a demo with the students on the question "Where does Wikipedia fit in the academic world?" She found the PDF of the Pew report.

She was doing this with Zotero version 1 [too bad, in a way, version 2 is so much more powerful]. She described the various steps up to generating the bib in APA.

She found: students save a LOT of PDFs. Sometimes without information to make proper citations (given the way PDFs save).

About 1 in 10 students kept on (or said they would keep on?) using Zotero.

She covered the Endnote/GMU case.

Timeline feature in 2 good. Students remember things by when they looked at them, not so much by title or other citation information. Makes it easier to find something archived away a while ago.

See also games: BiblioBouts (U Michigan game about doing good citations, built on Zotero), Vertov at Concordia.