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Zotero’s range of item types and options for notes and attachments mean that data can be considerably more varied than the term ‘reference manager’ might initially suggest, and can encompass most of the research materials used and cited by scholars. In combination with a range of ways to export and re-use the data (built-in data export functions, translators, API, and even direct interaction with the SQLite database), this opens up a wide range of possibilities for digital scholarship.

Zoterify Websites

Using translators or embedded metadata to enable one-click import of references. The main differences between translators and metadata:

  • Anyone with a knowledge of Javascript can write a translator for any website - no access to backend is needed (though it might help)
  • Embedding metadata can be much more precise, but requires the ability to change the site’s source code

Translators [zotero]

Exposing your website metadata [zotero]

See also: Resources: Zoterifying a Website or Search Engine

Extending Zotero

There are (at least!) three approaches to this:

  • ad hoc personal solutions to particular needs
  • tools developed by the Zotero community to extend Zotero functionality
  • create databases and tools that hook up with Zotero’s functions via the API

Personal solutions

Exporting Zotero to Excel - involves directly querying the Zotero sqlite database; an alternative method might be to write a translator that would export the data you wanted in CSV format for import into Excel.

Academic research/citation organization: Custom programming (plus Zotero) - a custom-built web application that uses Zotero for secondary storage.

Who am I? - export Zotero references in BibTex format, import into a data analysis tool for cleaning and normalization, and send to Gephi (a data visualisation tool) to produce a network graph of your research interests.


Zutilo - a utility that adds a number of small but often handy enhancements to the Zotero interface (Firefox-only).

Zotfile - very useful if you need to work with a lot of attachments: includes ability to rename and attach files, extract annotations from PDFs into notes, and more.

Fork Zotero

Multilingual Zotero (MLZ)

MLZ is much more than a plugin: it’s installed instead of ‘normal’ Zotero and provides major enhancements (eg, additional item types and metadata fields) specifically for multilingual data and legal scholars. A potential model for specialist uses in other fields.

Using the Zotero API

Serendip-o-matic - a “serendipity engine”. This tool takes text - including Zotero libraries - and analyses it for key terms, and then uses those terms to search a number of large online collections looking for items that are similar.

Zotpress - enables display of Zotero bibliographies on a Wordpress website.

Editors’ Notes - a “web-based tool for recording, organizing, preserving, and opening access to research notes, built with the needs of documentary editing projects, archives, and library special collections in mind”. This integrates with Zotero (using the Zotero API) for document collection and annotation.

Analysing and Visualising Data

Supercharge Your Zotero Library Using Paper Machines Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 - using the data analysis and visualisation plugin. (The plugin has evolved since this early post so some things it mentions may have changed.)

Timelines - this tool was developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (as part of “Simile” projects) and has been integrated into Zotero itself to visualise timelines in publications.

Data Mining with Criminal Intent - a Digging into Data project to bring together the Old Bailey Online, Zotero and the textmining suite of tools TaPOR (Voyant Tools).

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This page was last modified on March 17, 2014, at 07:29 AM