Athabasca Landing

Zotero Alert
February 26, 2013 – 10:02pm

With the fantastic collaboration of Athabasca University faculty I have been investigating the failure of Zotero to accurately generate APA 6th Ed. format.  In addition, Zotero can also fail to retrieve DOI that resolves easily from

This begs the question of accuracy for any citation application.  Many sites (i.e., evaluate features but nothing on accuracy of output.

A simple test reveals immediately the problem.

ISBN and DOI capitalization issues for Textbooks and Journal articles.
Qualitative inquiry and research design: choosing among five approaches …

Correct APA is to have capitalization of > Choosing <

My discussion can be found at and the responses to the discussion indicate bad news for anyone who expects accuracy.  If the MS Word application can adjust capitalization then a correct transformation in a citation application should be able to parse and capitalize output where necessary.

What I would like to see is research on the accuracy of citation applications in generating correct formatting from poorly formed data fields.

Regardless of the citation application, if the enduser has to enter preformatted data, then how is this any different from entering the sum manually in a spreadsheet?

Weren’t computers suppose to make our lives easier???

Athabasca Landing

Reference Management Software
June 13, 2012 – 2:46pm

There are a plethora of choices for electronic citation applications.  Perhaps the key features that best represent a good referencing application are inherently the same criteria for good software in general, such as:

  1. stability
  2. accessibility (i.e., cross-platform, cross-application)
  3. supported
  4. accurate (generate correct formats)
  5. user-friendly

An application that is very close to meeting the aforementioned criteria is ‘Zotero’.  In addition, Zotero is open-source and free.

There are a few quirks with the Zotero application that are useful to remember, such as:

  • The Firefox version is separate from the stand-alone application (i.e., you would need to export/import collection)
  • ‘Removing’ the selected item does not delete the reference from the library.
  • Adding a PDF link from a webpage may require manual entry of further Info (i.e., ‘Save Link as Zotero item’ results in a PDF with a link)

Zotero is the most versatile citation application that I have found, that is universal, free, and just works.  This app would be my first choice for OS X or Windows.

Reference Links:

    (a good list but not complete – missing Procite, Citation 9)
    (LibreOffice bibliography via database component… similar to MS Office… but free)
    (commercial Citation 9 for Windows)
    (Comparison of EndNote, Reference Manager, ProCite)
    (Personal Bibliography Management Software – a bit dated but interesting to compare with item #1)