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Research Guides

Zotero

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Sarah LeMire

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What is Zotero?

Zotero (pronounced "zoh-TAIR-oh") is a free research tool created to help collect, organize, share, and cite sources. As the Zotero website explains: "Zotero is, at the most basic level, a reference manager. It is designed to store, manage, and cite bibliographic references, such as books and articles. In Zotero, each of these references constitutes an item. More broadly, Zotero is a powerful tool for collecting and organizing research information and sources."

Currently in 5.0, Zotero is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems. The tool is packaged in two main parts:

  • Zotero Standalone, a desktop application that stores your citations and provides extensive functionality for sharing, sorting, and organizing

  • Zotero Connector, browser extensions for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox that allow you to save citations (including websites, search results, article PDFs, and library records) from your browser 

 

What Does Zotero Do?

Zotero's features include:

  • Web-browser integration: the ability to add sources detected when you are viewing diverse sources (including websites, library catalogs, and PDFs) online, using Zotero Connector for Firefox, Safari, and Chrome. In addition to storing a link to the source, Zotero will store files, notes, and attachments, as well as snapshots of web pages.
  • Multiple methods for organizing sources: sort sources into collections and subcollections ... but also add tags that will let you group items outside of the folder structures. More advanced users might create "smart collections" that automatically populate via saved searches as sources are added to your library.
  • Indexed source lists: Zotero will index the full-text content of your sources, allowing you to search across all of the items in your source library.
  • Citation generation: with thousands of publication formats available, Zotero lets you customize the style of your citations.
  • Word processor plugins: plugins for GoogleDocs, Microsoft Word, and LibreOffice allow you to add citations and create bibliographies within these word processors.
  • Syncing across devices: Zotero allows you to sync your sources across multiple computers and transfer your library to new devices.
  • Sharing: Zotero groups allow the option of either private or public libraries to be shared across groups. As an open-source  product, Zotero provides a home for researchers to publish their resource lists and to find others in their discipline or who share interests. 

Who Can Use Zotero?

Freely available, Zotero can be used by anyone without subscription or membership fees. You will need to register for an account to begin using the tool.

300 MB of storage are included with the free account; additional storage may be purchased.

Acknowledgments

Many thanks to librarians at Syracuse, Johns Hopkins, and Georgia State, who generously granted permission to copy and adapt their Zotero LibGuides.