Zotero is a free citation manager similar to RefWorks. This page offers information that will help you create and build a reference library, create and use groups to collaborate, and use Zotero to add properly format references in your papers.

Types of Groups

Groups provide a method to collaborate with other Zotero users. There are three different types of groups.

When you click on the Create New Group button in the Zotero tab, you will be brought to this page on Zotero's website which will give you the ability to create groups of different sorts:

Zotero group options

Groups provide a method to collaborate with other Zotero users. There are three different types of groups. Unless there is an explicit reason for not selecting the Private group type, the Private type seems the best suited for most uses.

Public, Open Membership: Open public groups are useful for the broadest discussion and collaboration. The group page is public, and anyone who wants to can join instantly. If the group has a public library, administrators can choose to show or hide the entire library or individual collections from non-members.

Public, Closed Membership: Closed-membership groups are useful for creating a controlled group environment with a public presence. This allows a group to publicly present its work and sources, or develop new membership in a controlled fashion. Anyone can view the group page, but the only way to join the group is by invitation or by requesting an invitation. If the group has a public library, administrators can choose to show or hide the entire library or individual collections from non-members

Private Membership: Private groups provide a means of collaboration among group members without creating any public face for the group online. Only group members and users invited to join the group are able to see the group’s page. Private groups are completely hidden from group searches. They are not shown on members’ public profile pages and will not appear in search engine results.

How to create/invite colleagues to groups

Once you've created a group for your project, you need to invite members. To do so, go to the Zotero website, click on the Groups tab and then on the "Manage Members" link. On this page there is a link that will allow you to invite users, so be sure to have the emails they used to create their Zotero accounts handy!

Like so:

On Zotero's website, go to Groups then Manage Members to add or remove group members

How to add references to a group

  • Just drag and drop the references into the group library folder. For other members to be able to view these changes quickly, they might have to sync Zotero. Like so:
    Dragging references from your library in Zotero to a group's library

Group members can't add or edit documents!

Group Members can't add or edit documents!

The settings to manage who can edit the group's library and edit file attachments is located on Zotero's website under Groups, then the group you're using, then Library Settings, then Library Editing and File Editing. Like so:
Using Library settings on Zotero's website for groups to allow other group members to add files and edit the library

There are two main options available here:

  1. Make all members administrators and only allow administrators edit the library: this is helpful if your group includes colleagues who you trust to have full control over the group's library and others who you'd like to be able to view the library but not edit it.
  2. Allow all members to edit files and the library: this is the ideal option if your group only includes members who you trust to have full control over the contents of the group's library.

Documents/citations aren't showing up for all group members

The most likely reason for this is that the owner of the group has filled up their quota of free space. The owner of the group can check on this by going to Zotero's website, logging in, clicking Settings, then selecting Storage. It will take you to this page: https://www.zotero.org/settings/storage. The page will look similar to this:
Viewing your storage usage on Zotero's website under Settings and then Storage

If they have used up all of their storage, then they have two options:

  1. Opt to not sync their personal library. If they do not have any documents there that they care if they lose, then this option may give your group some extra space to work with. The owner can do so under their Zotero preferences by unchecking the box labeled Sync attachment files in My Library using. See here that both boxes are checked:
    Changing your sync preferences in Zotero under preferences and sync
  2. The owner can purchase extra storage for their Zotero account on this page: https://www.zotero.org/settings/purchasestorage Extra storage is relatively affordable, with the cheapest plan providing 2GB extra storage for one year for $20. Do keep in mind that by default Zotero selects "Automatically renew", so be sure to de-select this option if you do not want Zotero to continue to charge you after a year has passed.
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