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Citation Management Tools: Zotero

How to Download Zotero

To download Zotero, which is an add-on for the Mozilla Firefox browser, go to the Zotero home page,, and look for the big red "Download Now" icon.

Clicking on that provides options to load either the add-on or the stand-alone version.  If you use Firefox reguarly, it is easiest to stick with the Firefox version. If you choose the stand-alone, you may want to also download the "connectors" for other browsers.

You may also want to download the appropriate word-processor plug-in so that you can insert in-text citations and bibliographies into your research papers.

Zotero online tutorials


What is Zotero?

Zotero Logo

The Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] site describes the product as: "a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources. It lives right where you do your work—in the web browser itself." This research tool automatically senses content within a Web browser window, allowing you to add it to your personal library with a single click.

Zotero collects all your research in a single, searchable interface. You can add PDFs, images, audio and video files, snapshots of web pages, and other sources. Zotero automatically indexes the full-text content of your library, enabling you to find exactly what you're looking for with a few keystrokes.

Zotero organizes your research into collections that act like iTunes playlists. Research items can be added to any number of named collections and subcollections, which in turn can be organized however you like. With saved searches, you can create smart collections that automatically fill with relevant materials as you add them to your library.

Zotero allows you to cite research items in a bibliography and as in-text citations. Create citations in Word and OpenOffice without leaving your word processor and add references to an email, a Google Doc, or some other editor simply by dragging one or more references out of Zotero.

Zotero has a groups feature that allows you to share your research files. You can create and join research groups to focus on any topic you choose. These groups can be private or public, open or closed.

Zotero Screen Shot

Below is what a typical Zotero screen looks like, with libraries, groups and citations shown. The Zotero pane is open along the bottom of the browser screen, where you can access your folders and citations. You can open and close the Zotero pane while working. Note that there are many icons for navigating Zotero commands and acting on the contents of the library. For a very quick tour of Zotero's capabilities, try this YouTube video (also provided below).

YouTube Quick Demo

An excellent introduction to Zotero, by Eric Sizemore and Jenny Veile.

Zotero Contact

Tom Melvin's picture
Tom Melvin

Civil & Environmental Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Material Science, Marine Science & Policy, Mechnical Engineering

Who Uses Zotero?

Zotero was developed by the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University as a tool for researchers to organize and maintain a collection of resources.

Zotero is used by many academic disciplines, especially social sciences and humanities. Zotero lists both a "Zotero People" site listing individual researchers by discipline and a "Use Cases" site with specific applications of Zotero.

Creating a RIS File for Download to Sakai

To create an RIS file from Zotero, select items from your library or from an individual collection, using the CTRL key to select more than one, then right click to view the drop-down menu. From that menu, select "Export Selected Items," then choose "RIS" as the Export Format on that drop-down menu. Click OK and then select the location on your computer whire the file is to be saved and give it a name.

Use that file to subsequently upload the citations into Sakai:

  1. Go to "Resources" in any Sakai site, and then use the "Add" drop-down from the folder you wish to import to, selecting "Add Citation List" as your choice."  You can always import citations in My Worlskpace, but by default, only instructors can do this in course sites.
    the Add Citations screen.

  2. Select Import Citations.

  3. Next to "Import File From:", enter the path to the file you wish to import, or click Browse...  to browse to it.

  4. When the filename appears in the box, click Import. The citations from your file will appear in the Citations list.

Note: In some instances, when the citations originate from a Library database, the entire article is made available online in Sakai.

Additional information on loading RIS files into Sakai is available from this Web site:

For assistance using Sakai, please contact the IT Support Center.