Zotero is a free reference management system where you can collect, manage, cite, and share research. You can use it to store references, highlight and annotate webpages, and collaborate by using groups through Zotero's website. All your references will be saved to the Zotero server. Zotero works with word processors (e.g. MS Word, Openoffice, and Word Perfect) so you can insert citations into research papers and create bibliographies from your saved citations. There are three usage options, depending on your preferred browser and whether you would like a web-based or desktop client.
First, there is Zotero for Firefox, an extension for the Firefox browser. This is the original method of using Zotero and it has the most features available with it. In this option, Zotero will run on your computer, is embedded within Firefox and a "Z" for Zotero button is displayed in the toolbar at the top of the Firefox browser window.
If you prefer not to use Firefox as your primary browser, you can use the Zotero stand-alone option instead. Zotero Standalone is a separate, browser-independent application that can be used in Chrome, Safari, or Opera and is almost identical to the Zotero for Firefox extension. The stand-alone client can be installed on Windows, Macs, and Linux operating systems. Because Zotero Standalone lives outside of your browser, it cannot offer all of the advanced features of Zotero for Firefox, like automatic proxy redirection, but otherwise the features are almost the same. With Zotero Standalone, you need to install a Zotero connector into the browser of your choice (Chrome, Safari, or Opera) from the Zotero download page.
If you do not want to (or cannot) install software or extensions on your computer, you also have the option of using Zotero as a bookmarklet from almost any browser, including on your phone or tablet. The bookmarklet option offers basic Zotero functionality, allowing you to save items directly to an online Zotero library, but you will not be able to select which collection items are added to, not all websites support this option, and you will not be able to use the Zotero word processor plugin.
This guide contains information on setting up Zotero on your computer, adding references, writing and citing, using Zotero in groups, mobile options for using Zotero, more advanced tips and a comparison between Zotero, RefWorks, Endnote and Mendeley.
While we at the Health Sciences Library provide full support for Endnote, if you have any questions about Zotero or which citation management system to use for your research needs, we are here to help via chat, email, or phone (919-962-0800).