Doing a PhD means reading…a lot of reading. However, a necessary result of this is that it also requires a lot of references and a lot of organisation. Before I came across Zotero I did all references and bibliographies manually as I went along. This worked well but was far from ideal.
Bibliography/Reference management software is thus an ideal item for those working in research. Not only does it offer you a place to store all your references easily (and across all machines) but also allows you to attach PDFs, notes and more to them for easy access.
The most famous reference manager is, probably, EndNote. I personally found this too clunky and not flexible enough. It is also proprietary (i.e. expensive). In contrast, Zotero is open source and, frankly, superb. It is simple, clean and effective. Its MS Word Plug-in for inserting references directly and correctly formatted into your word document is spot on. Indeed, the only issue I do have with it is the problem of editing referencing styles. However, this is only a tiny niggle and the csl files are quite straightforward to edit (if not as easy as EndNote’s approach) and the Zotero forums are a rich area to get help in this respect.
Overall, if you’re a researcher and you are not using a reference manager. You have to give it a try as it could save you countless hours over the period of a long project. What is more, why not start with Zotero first!
(Other reference managers include Papers, Mendeley and more. Take a look around online to find out more options)