when are you going to find time to do it again?
Don’t know where or when I first hear or read that phrase – it could well have one of those motivational posters. Perhaps it was sharing wall with the poster that said “Hang in there Baby!” with a picture of a terrified kitten dangling from a branch, and next to that an image plucked from the Peanuts pantheon accompanied by the declaration “Every job is a self portrait of the person who did it.”
Regardless of the questionable wisdom of its propaganda companions, time and trial (and error) have proven that statement to be true. For my first research paper ever at SCAD (Contemporary Art ) I made a folder on my desktop and would drag in urls from pages I had visited that did or might contain something I might use. It was terrible, terrible, terrible… when it came time to reference, quote, and cite I wasted incredible amounts of time trying to retrace and locate. There were even times I couldn’t find the original source. Lesson learned, or so I thought.
My next big research paper, Zotero was recommended to us. I did use this resource, but was still not particularly meticulous about creating specific folders for content, and never use the note feature. One of the biggest advantages was being able to access my collection of resources from any computer. I also very much appreciate Zotero creating copies of PDF documents, alleviating yet another house keeping/filing chore.
This time around I am creating specific categories of resources and appending notes to those that I want to reference or follow up on, reminding myself why. Just as often though I’ll find a resource that might be useful, and toss it into a folder without a thorough examination. So I’m getting better, but there is room for improvement. I need to start evaluating my collection and winnowing it down to the good stuff before I’m to the eyeballs with reference clutter!
! I’m just going to add that while MLA no longer requires including the URL for web resources, I suggest it is still a good idea to include that information for you and your readers.
- quite intuitive
- web accessible from anywhere
- free (with limited storage)
- can easily add notes, tags, keywords
- GREAT documentation on how to use it
- can select from many citation formats
- limited free storage (those pdfs add up pretty fast)
- the MLA citation style is never 100% correct and always requires tweaking (but that could be the case with any of the these tools)
!!! caveat emptor – I’ve just hit my ‘free’ storage limit with my Zotero account, so I thought fine, I’ll pay for some extra space. $20 a year for gig sounds like pretty good value for dollar. But the only way available to pay using is Google Wallet. I am not a fan of Google, and this is just another example of why. Had I know Zotero was a Google product I probably would have looked for a different solution. But now I’m already in pretty deep, so do I switch horses? I’m tempted to start a full on rant, but won’t. Let me just say that if you are availing yourself of all those great free Google offerings, it may one day bite you in the rear.