CORE 112: Citing & Organizing Your Resources: Why and How

Tracing a Scholarly Conversation

This activity (a Google form) could be used in class or as homework, assigned to individual students or to small groups. Choose a text from the syllabus that students have already read.

Before the session login to USC Google Drive using your USC credentials. Click on the template below - "Tracing a Scholarly Conversation - CORE112." Select "Edit this form" at the top right of the page and then "Make a Copy" from the File dropdown menu


Retitle and edit the copied form as you see fit, you might tailor the form to the reading chosen. Shorten the URL of the live survey using a URL shortener like or to the Google Form. Display the shortened URL so that students may navigate to it.You can view students' responses by clicking "Responses" next to "Questions" on the editable form when you are logged in.

Assessment: Share the Google Sheet of the answers with using the Share button in the top right corner. Please notify by email and include the course information (course #, time, assigned reading) in the message to ease in assessment data collection.

Citation Resources

Zotero: A citation management tool

Go to the Zotero Download page at

Click the Zotero for Firefox link.

When you see the message "Firefox prevented this site from asking you to install software on your computer," click Allow.

Install confirmation box

Click Install Now, and Zotero will download and install. Restart Firefox. If you're using Safari or Internet Chrome you will need to download the Standalone version of Zotero.

Creative Commons License Content on this guide was originally created by Jason Puckett and licensed by Georgia State University Library under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License and adapted here for SWMS 410

Zotero provides the ability to save references from most library catalogs (including USC's) and databases, with one click. If Zotero detects that you're looking at a book or article on a catalog, database, or other compatible site, you'll see a book or page icon appear in the utility bar of your browser. Just click the icon and Zotero will automatically save the citation to your library. If you'd like to see additional options for saving - click the arrow next to the icon. If you are using an older version of Firefox, you may see the icon directly in the URL bar on your browser.

After clicking the Zotero icon, you'll see it save to your library in the bottom right hand corner of your browser window.

Zotero can't automatically capture citation info from some web pages, but you can still add them to your Zotero library.

Click the Zotero button to access Zotero's controls and expand the Zotero pane. Click the page button (to the right of the green plus sign) to save a link to the page. This will save a new "web page" item to your library. You can add information about the author, etc., if you wish.

It's easy to create a bibliography from your Zotero library.

Select the references or collections you want to include. Hold the control key and click to select multiple items. Right-click one of the selected items and choose Create Bibliography.

Choose the bibliographic style you want, select Copy to Clipboard, click OK and paste into your word processor.

Zotero offers word processing plugins for Word and OpenOffice. The plugin adds a Zotero toolbar to your word processor that allows you to add citations to your document while you write.

To add a citation, click the first button ("Insert Citation") on the toolbar. Search for the reference you want to cite and press Enter. Zotero will add the citation at your cursor.

At the end of your paper, click the third button ("Insert Bibliography"). Your bibliography will appear, and new citations will be added automatically. Change bibliographic styles with the last button on the toolbar ("Set Doc Prefs").

Sync Your Library: If you're regularly using more than one computer in your research, Zotero's sync feature can keep your library up to date on all of them. Zotero can store a copy of your library on the server and check it for updates whenever you open your library on a different computer. All your computers must be running the same version of Zotero.

First, set up a (free, of course) user account.

Then: Open Zotero preferences (via the gear menu) and select the Sync tab. Enter your Zotero user name and password. Check the "sync automatically" box. Check both boxes under File Syncing and choose Zotero storage for My Library. This will sync your PDF attachments as well as citations.

Click the green circular arrow button at the top right corner of the Zotero window. Zotero will upload your library to the server.

Find-it at USC: You've probably seen the Find it @ USC button in some article databases that allows you to locate the full text of an article online. Zotero allows you to use the same feature. To set up Zotero to access the Find it @ USC server, click the gear button on the Zotero toolbar and choose Preferences and paste this link into the "Resolver:"

Add Additional Citation Styles to Zotero:

Zotero comes with the most common bibliographic styles, but many more are available to download.

To install a style (Firefox):

  1. Go to the Zotero Style Repository page in Firefox.
  2. Search for the name of the style you need.
  3. Click the Install link next to the style, then the Install button to confirm.

Information Literacy Outcomes

  • Give credit to the original ideas of others through attribution and/or formal conventions
  • Identify publication practices and their related implications for how information is accessed and valued