Using Zotero for productivity in research and writing

Zotero homepage
Zotero is a powerful reference and citation manager with many powerful capabilities. See  for full documentation.

It can be used to capture reference metadata from web sites and databases compliant with metadata standards. Set up Zotero on your conputer and then check out Google Scholar, Agora and the Biblio library (copy on this site).

Zotero is very flexible. It was originally written as a Firefox extension and is quite convenient in this mode. Alternatively, it can be installed as a standalone program with connectors for Google Chrome and Safari. For citation, it can be used with LibreOffice Writer, NeoOffice Writer or Microsoft Word.

Read on to see how this tool can improve your workflow writing scientific and other academic papers.

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Migrating to PostgreSQL



Moving to PostgreSQL from MySQL has been pretty straight forward so far. My motivations for moving are simple. I was interested in the PostGIS spatial extensions and becoming concerned with the move in Linux distributions from MySQL to MariaDB. While the move to MariaDB may not be a real concern, it was a good excuse to try out PostgreSQL.

In the move I have found a few tips ... and there are sure to be plenty more... 

here is one for starters ...

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Creating a citation friendly bibliography database

Online library system
2013 gave me an interesting and challenging few months learning and building an online reference / bibliographic database (mainly in my spare time). I had some basic criteria: low cost, easy to learn and use, easily able to import and export data, library standards compliant, zotero friendly, incorporate basic libray functions, provide full text access, submission queues,  and allow multiple user access with differential security levels. First I looked at "off the shelf" products and of a multitude of these, Refbase, EPrints, and Koha stood out as candidates. I really liked Refbase, and it ticked most of the boxes, especially with regard to citation, but sadly, lacked flexibility in fields and library functions and needed extra steps to convert our spreadsheet based data for import. Similarly, EPrints did not stand up to the reputation.  Koha, on the other hand, is a full blown integrated library system. It ticked all boxes except for ease of use and import of data...and ease of adding uploaded "full text" files.  In the end, it was possibly too comprehensive, and while much effort was spent in migrating to the MARC standard, the difficulties in handling multiple authors in a Zotero friendly way, led me to look at an alternate path.

I had been reluctant to build a system from scratch, as even though it would give the flexibility we needed, the need to build in metadata harvesting by Zotero was a whole new learning curve!   Take a look at the end product - a fully functional copy of the system (without the full text attachments)  is available here on Digging Stick.

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Building a Google Maps Application with PostgreSQL

Google Map
How to save points from Google maps in a PostgreSQL database. This has been adapted from 2 articles for MySQL, referenced from The Google Geo Developers Blog -

New Articles: Powering Maps API v3 Apps with MySQL

"Using PHP/MySQL with Google Maps" shows how to pull data from a SQL database as XML and display that on the map.

"From InfoWindows to a Database: Saving User-Added Form Data" shows you how to enable users to add geo-tagged information to a database via your map application.


Migrating this to PostgreSQL was worth the effort as it opened opportunities to integrate the Google Maps application with PostGIS.  See Google Maps (API 3) application and related story: Getting Productive With QGIS, Postgresql, PostGIS, and Google maps

The following code snippets give examples of the PostgreSQL adapted code - no other changes are needed from the referenced articles. Learn more about this in our online training module - Getting Productive with (Q)GIS

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