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What is Zotero?

Zotero icon

Zotero is a free tool that collects, manages, and cites research sources. It's easy to use and lives in your web browser where you do your work. Zotero can be downloaded as a Firefox extension, or as a StandAlone version that works with Chrome and Safari. I'll primarily give browser-based Firefox examples in this tutorial, but using the StandAlone version will be very similar.  Zotero allows you to attach PDFs, notes and images to your citations, organize them into easily searchable collections for different projects, and create bibliographies using Word (for Mac or Windows) or OpenOffice using any of nearly 8000 citation styles. 

References can be added to a Zotero library in many different ways:  directly from databases, journal websites, Google Scholar or the library catalog, by reference file import (for example from an EndNote library), by dragging in PDFs from your hard drive, and by entering them manually.

Citation Manager Comparison

Many people like to know the pros and cons between the various citation management software choices before they start using a particular tool.  Here is a brief overview of the differences between Zotero, EndNote (and EndNote Web) and Mendeley.  A more lengthy comparison between EndNote Web, EndNote, Mendeley and Zotero is attached if you are interested.

Criteria Zotero Mendeley EndNote EndNote Web
Cost Free Free Free for OSU Students through IS software licensing program; faculty/staff purchase annual license Free to OSU users
Web based? Yes Yes, but not primarily No Yes
Storage capacity Unlimited local storage and data syncing; 1GB free Zotero file syncing if you register with an OSU email address (larger syncing plans available for purchase); or can use WebDav Unlimited local storage and data syncing; 1GB personal and 100MB shared online space (larger online storage plans available for purchase) Unlimited local storage Limited to 10,000 citations
Create group or shared libraries Yes Yes, free for up to 3 group members (larger group plans available for purchase) Yes, up to 15 members Yes, but can’t share PDFs with the group
Number of Citation Styles +8000 styles +8000 styles ~5000 ~5000



Zotero Workshops @ OSU