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Referencing & Plagiarism: Zotero


Zotero is open source software so It’s free to use and isn’t linked to your University of Suffolk email or log-in, which means you can set up an account with any email address. It’s actually possible to install and use it without registering an account, though this prevents you from synchronizing or collaborating. It was originally developed in 2006 by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media as part of its mission to ‘create…open-source digital tools to preserve and present the past’; it is now curated by the Corporation for Digital Scholarship. 

To download Zotero Desktop see the Installation instructions here.

The download page also has a link to download the ‘Zotero Connector’, which allows you to save web page content directly to Zotero. The download page automatically senses which browser you are using. 

For an overview of Zotero’s functions see the quick start guide.

For comprehensive guidance, including FAQs, trouble-shooting and the Zotero Knowledge Base see here.

There is also an extensive list of Zotero support videos made by users on YouTube.

There are a variety of different ways of adding a reference to your collection. The page adding items to Zotero explains them, but a few examples are: 

  • using the Zotero connector, which reads bibliographic data from the web to add a reference straight from the library catalogue, a database or journal page, etc.; 
  • manually, using the manual add button; 
  • using the identifier to look up an ISBN, PubMed ID, DOI, etc.; 
  • importing an .RIS file from a catalogue, e-book, database or other record.

The two basic output methods are: a) to copy generated references into your document. This has the advantage of being easy to edit but means that in-text citations need to be added separately, and also that the references won’t update automatically if you make any changes to source in your collection. B) to use the plug-in for whatever word processing software you are using. This allows you to dynamically update both in-text citations and references. The procedure is to position the cursor where you want the in-text citation to appear, and then search for the relevant item by title or author (or by highlighting it previously) in the dialogue that appears. This dialogue also enables editing the in-text citation to e.g., exclude the author name, include a page number, and so on. Preferences can be toggled on or off to include the full reference list. This functionality is pretty much identical to that of the other software discussed here.

Zotero offers two main ways of sharing. One is the option to automatically generate a bibliography of your own publications, under the My Collections folder. The other is to create a group. You can add members, set visibility and access parameters, and then share items from your collection, or folders, to the group. This would allow a group of students working on a collective project to search for and share resources they have found. More information is available here.