Working together… with Zotero!

Zotero is a great tool. You probably know it is useful when writing your essays and thesis, but have you tried its collaborative features yet? Let our resident specialist Catherine Brendow tell you how to improve group work and reference management.

It’s my party

To use Zotero’s collaborative features, create your account on the Zotero website, then go back to your desktop library, find the “Edit” menu > Preferences > Sync, and enter the username and password you have just chosen. This will allow Zotero to connect your desktop library with your online account. Once this is done, Zotero will sync everything on its own.

You can then create a private group on the Zotero website, and invite the people you wish to work with, or just click on the “New collection” button in Zotero, then select “New group” to share references with your colleagues. You can decide which rights each person will have.

Out of space

Don’t forget that these references will be stored in your Zotero storage space if you created the group. While Zotero offers 300 MB free storage, this might not be enough for file attachments. To save space, you can select the “no group file storage” in the group settings.

Storing the files on an external server (WebDAV) is not a good solution for a group library. If you are running short of storage space, you can consider renting some additional storage.

You can also create a public group to share references on the Web. For example, students of the Graduate Institute have created a public Zotero group to share references on fieldwork.

Come together

Efficient group work on Zotero might require setting rules. Iris Jastram, a librarian at Carleton college, suggests some best practices for groups using Zotero which could help with that.

You may also wish to use Google Docs or another cloud-based tool to write together. While there is no equivalent to the Word or LibreOffice Zotero toolbar, it is still possible to insert references from a Zotero library into a Google Docs document – it might just feel awkward when you know how easy the alternative is.


Would you like to know more about reference management? Just visit Catherine’s Zotero libguide and let us know if it helped!

Picture: © Boris Palefroy/Graduate Institute, all rights reserved

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