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What is Zotero?

Zotero is a powerful knowledge management tool that allows you to collect, annotate, organize, cite, and share your research material.

  • A personal research assistant.
    • Zotero automatically senses content from within your browser, allowing you to capture records into your personal library with a single click. You can capture a journal article, a news story from various web sites, an image, a web page from anywhere on the WWW, or citations to a book from our university library. You can also capture your own ideas and annotations.
  • Store and Organize anything.
    • Zotero collects your research material in a searchable database. Zotero automatically indexes the full-text content of your library, enabling you to later search for items in your database. You can create folders, subfolders, keyword tags, and manually Relate items.
  • Cite perfectly.
    • Zotero allows you to create footnotes, endnotes, in-text citations, or bibliographies from your captured materials. Create citations and bibliographies in Word and OpenOffice within your word processor. Add references to an email, a Google Doc, or other editors simply by dragging one or more references out of Zotero. For additional information about citation practices see the Saint Xavier Citation-Style Guides page.

NOTE: Use EndNote format to download from the I-Share book catalog.

One example student scenario:

The student started by wanting to document examples of "real" exorcisms. We discussed creating a Zotero folder for exorcisms with the following Tags (subject headings): geography, religion, spoken languages, inexplicable by other means or fraudulent. During the course of the exploration and annotation it became obvious that exorcisms were not just Christian experiences, that languages were spoken from far away locations, and that there were both supporting and damaging reports on these events. A more balanced and complete understanding of the nuances in the topic was experienced through the use of this tool, and the resulting paper was considered an excellent analysis of the broader question. 



Screen Shots

Part1: capture material
Part 2: create your own notes
Part 3: search your knowledgebase
Part 4: create bibliographies
Part 5: import already saved materials
Part 6: enhance records with your own annotations


Book catalog and Central Index citation and record capture

BOOK and JOURNAL ARTICLE RECORDS can be DOWNLOADED or EMAILED from the book catalog or the CENTRAL INDEX database

Video: capture a citation in various styles.

Video: use the Zotero button to quickly download book catalog results.

Video: use the pin process first - and then the Zotero button to download fulltext journal articles from the Central Index.


Full text capture:

  • individual record: captures citation with full text capture.
  • multiple items: add to Pinned and then use the Zotero button.

Citation only:

  • Zotero tool used on selected citations captures only citations…use the Pinned approach and then the Zotero button.
  • NOTE: The Pin "download process" within the Central Index does not capture the full text -- use Zotero button from Pinned folder instead.

EBSCO databases

Full text capture:

  • Zotero button captures multiple citations and includes full text from a search results list.
  • You can also use the Folder (favorites) and then use the Zotero button.

Citation only:

  • Zotero button on individual record views does NOT capture full text.      !!! NOT INTUITIVE !!!!
  • From a PDF on the desktop: Drag the file into the center window. It should locate the associated metadata automatically. If not, right click the document and select the Retrieve metadata option.

If you are not on your own workstation, where you have downloaded the Zotero button...

Downloading or emailing book metadata/records and dropping them into Zotero can also be accomplished using the Pin function in our book catalog. While this Pin approach is adequate for capturing book information, it will not automatically capture full text journal materials, so you would be better off grabbing journal metadadata and full text journal articles simultaneously using the Zotero connector button (see above).

Video showing how to use the Primo VE pin process to export and download bib records from our new book catalog

The steps:

  • Start Zotero, go to desired folder
  • Select pin to save specific items
  • Go to Pin icon (top of screen)
  • Mark desired records or All
  • select the three dots ...
  • Export to RIS
  • Select UTC-8 (first option)
  • Download
  • On your workstation: select the file that appears in the download area
  • you are then prompted to Input into Zotero (you can add to your most recent folder or create a new folder)
  • you may want to clear the Favorites (pin) folder for next time
  • delete the Primo_RIS_Export file on your workstation - located in Downloads folder (to clear the file for the next set of records)

How to create an account and download the add-on software

The Process:

  1. Create an account using the web/cloud tool,
  2. Download the Standalone tool (for more powerful saving and citation options),
  3. Download the browser connector software for quick saving of full text materials,
  4. Synchronize the cloud and your software...add your password and select your default citation style


  • Create an account (Register on the top right) for using the online cloud service at (Remember the login information if you plan to sync your cloud account with your downloaded client tool.)
  • Add the web Connector to capture new materials. (This saves citations to the cloud account, but you will not have all the powerful features available when using the standalone client version.)


  • Download the Zotero software client and the web browser Connector for more powerful options ... such as integration with your word processor.
  • the linker that synchronizes with Word (to merge information into references and bibliographies) is automatically loaded.
  • Configure the client: 
    • Start the standalone version, select Edit/Preferences, then Sync ... add the account information (using your password from above).
    • then in Preferences, under Search, install the checker ... to automatically index the full text materials you download.
    • in Preferences, under Cite and Export, you can set your default citation style.
    • in Preferences, under Advanced, you can set the resolver URL for off-campus access; the URL is 

Using Zotero on other workstations (without your client software):>

  • NOTE: If you do not, or cannot, load the client software on your workstation, you can load the Connector to the browser and then use the Connector bookmark button in order to add materials to the default file in your cloud account - but you must be logged into your cloud account. (This is good for working from non-SXU public locations.)
  • NOTE: The SXU library workstations include the software, but you will need to synchronize to your cloud account each time. (Select Edit/Preferences, then Sync ... add your account information.)

Below are two Zotero 4.0 screen shots:

  1. the Zotero software (lower window pane) ... capturing multiple citations and fulltext documents from the top pane (database).
  2. the Zotero software (lower window pane) searching and viewing a previously downloaded fulltext document (in the top pane).

Zotero screenshot -- saving multiple articles at one time

Zotero database with link to saved full text article


  • The Software
    Web version: create account
    • Access anywhere
    • Require plug-in to capture materials
    • Used to create Groups (invite, change permissions)
  •   Client
    • More powerful – easy capture, annotation, link to word processors
    • Download client software, Synch account, set default Citation Style
    • Download Connector extension (allows for easy capture)
    • Create Collections and sub-collections for projects
  • Capture material (citations, fulltext articles, files)
    • Central Index – use PIN and then button from Favorites
    • EBSCOhost databases/Academic Search Complete – capture fulltext from multiple citation page (not from individual record), or while viewing FT doocument
    • Web pages – captures snapshot (use copy-and-paste into Note) to make searchable text
    • Drag in existing PDFs to central area (and ask to find metadata using right click, if necessary)
  • Create your own records
    • Create a manual record (many Types of documents)
    • Use right click on record to Attach documents (images, spreadsheets, files) 
  • Notes, Tags, Related annotations
    • Add keywords in Notes tab
    • Create controlled vocabulary across records using Tags (show at bottom right window)
    • Related tab allows to link materials (within and across Collections)
  • Searching
    • Specific (active) Collection – or -- Library (top line to search across all Collections)
    • Limit to specific fields (pull down on search bar)
    • Create Reports from search results
  • Link to papers
    • Seamless creation of References and Bibliographies using Word
    • Google allows drag-and-drop options

Zotero CARLI Survey Results

As the result of the Zotero survey sent to CARLI Directors, the following patterns were discovered, which lead to possible next steps. 

Definition: PKM is providing assistance beyond basic citation capture.


  • 19% of respondents were actively providing expanded information management service.
  • 43% were somewhat familiar with the concept of expanded information services.
  • 37% were not familiar with the described expansion of citation management services.


  • RefWorks                8.33%
  • Mendeley              25.00%
  • Zotero                    91.67%
  • EndNote(?)           41.67%


There are a range of promotion activities offered by libraries to promote library citation and personal knowledge tools and techniques:

Service Follow-up Action
Many libraries support basic citation capture and bibliography creation. 66%  Expand our outreach for deeper integration.
Some libraries cover full text capture and copyright/plagiarism.  50%. Extend PKM instruction to cover these next CORE skill set.
Some libraries cover annotation/citation tracking/relational linking. 41%. Extend PKM instruction to cover these ADVANCED skills when appropriate. Zotero activity.
A few address next level data handling (GPS, DMP, tags). 16%. Extend PKM instruction to cover these ADVANCED skills when appropriate. Not core Zotero service.


These are areas where researchers would benefit from library integration into their normal scholar networks.

Present Service Next Enhancement
Browser add-ons for our resolver limitations. 16% Promote Open Access browser add-ons until we address this deficiency in our resolvers.

Deeper integration into normal scholarly networks:

Introduce and compare generic library tools to specialized subject-specific user tools (DiRT). 8% Describe pros/cons of using Zotero vs specialized data handling tools.
Include integrations and relationships of library services with social networking tools. 25% Mention how library services can align with social networks (pointers, copyright, versions, suggestions).
Highlight Impact Factors as evaluation and navigation options (within their domains). 8% Demo Impact Factors and Citation Tracking as ways to effectively navigate their own scholarly domains.


These new options could be added to the most popular instruction channels:

  • Pointers to tools 
  • Personal (1-on-1) assistance -- f-2-f or virtual
  • Classroom instruction
  • Guides to tools and techniques (static or dynamic assistance)
  • Virtual classroom instruction 
  • Scheduled workshops