zbib.org feedback

Lately I'm sending more and more undergrads to ZoteroBib. Downloading software, adding extensions, etc. is becoming an increasingly painful proposition for increasingly tech-hesitant students who just want a bibliography.

In watching students use ZoteroBib, I've noticed the following:
  1. Many students use it to generate a single bibliography entry at a time (for an assignment, rather than for an entire paper, eg.).
  2. Relatively few students think to use it to copy in-text references.
  3. There is some disconnect between the various ways zbib displays "copy" actions and the ways students expect the tool to behave. I'll focus on these.
There are three ways to get things "out" of zbib, each of which has some shortcomings:
  1. Copy individual in-text references with the "copy" icon next to each entry. (Screenshot)

    The problem here is that the copy icon being next to a formatted bibliography entry signals to the user that the single entry itself will be copied, not an in-text reference or footnote. Confusion results when users are prompted to adjust the in-text reference, and students unfamiliar with the difference between note and bibliography entry for note styles like CMOS may not even notice they're copying the wrong thing.

    Suggestion: in the modal that appears when clicking the copy on an individual entry, include the ability to copy the entire entry, or change the existing copy function icon to a set of quotation marks (for "copy citation"), and add a second copy function that copies the entry.
  2. Copy the entire bibliography with "Copy to Clipboard" button, and
  3. Export to various formats with the drop-down portion of the "Copy to Clipboard" button.

    Although it's labeled "Copy to Clipboard," this button, being under the "Export" heading, is separated from the material being copied, so it's unclear exactly what is being copied. The word "Export" suggests something more technical than what most students really want to do.

    Suggestion: either eliminate the Export heading altogether, or have it use friendlier language. Maybe "Copy & Export" as a heading, and use the button to describe what's being copied: "Copy Bibliography," or the reverse, "Copy Bibliography" as the heading, to clarify what's being copied, and keep "Copy to Clipboard" as the button text.
  • Yeah, these all make sense to me. I just looked at zbib.org again and it took me a while to figure out what's going on
  • @denlinkd

    I share your thoughts about point 1 in your post. See my feature request here:
  • @denlinkd: Thanks for this feedback. We've added a button to copy each reference and moved the main export button directly below the bibliography without a header.
  • @dstillman Many thanks for adding the "Copy Bibliography Entry" button. Is it possible to have the option to copy the bibliography for an individual title as html? This is useful for capturing the italics surrounding the title (using APA 7).
  • @gsummers: No, sorry. Copying raw HTML code would be an extremely niche thing, and if you want to do that you can copy the whole bibliography (which is the intended usage anyway) or use some browser extension as you described in the other thread. The vast majority of users will be served by the default plain and rich text.
  • @dstillman Thanks for clarifying - I see that I can utilize the rich text copy anyway so this is still a valuable ZoteroBib update. Thanks to you and other Zotero developers for an amazing product!
  • Hey, @dstillman, these changes look great. Thanks for the attention there.

    I'm going to start a separate thread on some concerns I have and opportunities I see re: the future of Zotero and zbib, as someone who has been using and teaching Zotero to undergrads for about as long as Zotero has been around. I'll link to that here.
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