I’ve previously written about a note-taking and writing workflow using mindmapping software in conjunction with Scrivener and Zotero to help organise ideas and minimise rote admin. As I’m now at the point where I can see how different schools and authors fit together, I no longer need to use mindmapping software to organise readings, and so have moved my entire note-taking workflow to Zotero. This has proven very helpful!
The below video shows how to get references from Google Scholar into Zotero; how to extract annotations from PDFs into Zotero; how to add notes, search for items, and produce reports for saving or printing; and inserting citations/bibliographies into working documents.
Update June 2022: Zotero now natively supports extracting annotations (see here). Simply right-click the annotated/highlighted PDF and click “Add Note from Annotations”.
PS. Are you the kind of monster that downloads articles and then never looks at them again (i.e. all of us)? You’ll find items you’ve imported into Zotero but not yet organised in the “Unfiled” section. This could help to identify what you’ve not yet read (but are meaning to) and act as a prompt to assist. You may also want to use tags to grade readings for their relevance to your work. Good luck!
Further reading and resources
- Download Zotero
Find browser connectors on the same page; you’ll need a free Zotero registration to connect your browser to the Zotero desktop application. Word and LibreOffice plugins come with Zotero by default.
- Download Zotfile
Installation instructions are given on the above page, but in brief, download the xpi file, open Zotero desktop, go to Tools>Addons, click the gear icon, and ‘install from file’. Select the xpi file you downloaded and you’re away.
- Download Foxit Reader