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What is Zotero?

Zotero is a free reference management tool developed as a project developed at Carnegie Mellon and supported by a small team at George Mason University.

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Zotero is a popular tool used by researchers, professors, and students for referencing and bibliography preparation. It is particularly …
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What is Zotero?

Zotero is a free reference management tool developed as a project developed at Carnegie Mellon and supported by a small team at George Mason University.

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Clarivate Analytics headquartered in Philadelphia offers EndNote, a reference library and management software. Endnote helps users save time, stay organized, collaborate with colleagues, and get published.

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Product Demos

Zotero Citation Program Demo 04.11.2015


Demo of Experimental Law Support in Zotero


Zotero Demo 1: Intro: open zotero, create file folders, download item


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Zotero Demo


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Product Details

What is Zotero?

Zotero Technical Details

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Reviews and Ratings


Community Insights

TrustRadius Insights are summaries of user sentiment data from TrustRadius reviews and, when necessary, 3rd-party data sources. Have feedback on this content? Let us know!

Zotero is a popular tool used by researchers, professors, and students for referencing and bibliography preparation. It is particularly useful for conducting literature reviews, managing multiple projects, and easily reformatting papers for different journal articles. Users appreciate the software's collaboration features, which allow teams of researchers to work together and share a shared library. Zotero simplifies the process of creating citations in various formats, such as APA, MLA, and Chicago, and helps users stay organized by tracking and organizing literature, notes, and tags. Its integration with web browsers enables easy retrieval of citation information and files from online sources. Overall, Zotero is highly valued for its versatility in managing references across different document processors, improving the efficiency of research processes and saving significant time for academic writers.

Free and Open-Access Tool: Many users appreciate that Zotero is a free and open-access tool, with several reviewers mentioning this as a key advantage. This feature allows all users to access the tool without any cost barriers, making it accessible to a wide range of individuals.

Browser Add-On for Easy Source Adding: The browser add-on feature in Zotero is highly praised by multiple reviewers. They mention that it simplifies the process of adding sources to the library, with Zotero automatically finding PDF files and metadata for added documents. This functionality saves time and effort for users when gathering research materials.

Simplicity of Design and Functionality: Several users appreciate the simplicity of Zotero's design, particularly in its Linux app. They find the user interface to be simple and ideal for distraction-free work, especially for academics. The simplicity combined with great functionality makes it easy for users to navigate through the tool and focus on their research tasks effectively.

Challenging User Interface: Many users have found the user interface of Zotero to be challenging, compact, and clustered, making it difficult to navigate and find features. Some users have expressed their need for more user-friendly features and improvements to the user interface to make the research process more exciting.

Difficulties with Syncing and Crashes: Users have reported issues with syncing and occasional crashes while working with Zotero. These technical problems can disrupt the workflow and cause frustration among users.

Limited Free Version: Users have expressed dissatisfaction with the limitations of the free version of Zotero, such as limited storage and the perception that the paid version is overpriced. The restricted storage amount in the free version is considered restrictive compared to other software options on the market.

Based on user reviews, users recommend the following actions when using Zotero:

  1. Use Zotero for organizing and managing research: Users highly recommend using Zotero as a tool for organizing and keeping research materials in one place. It allows for easy retrieval of information and helps researchers stay organized. Additionally, it is suggested to utilize Zotero's features such as tracking and managing parameters during a study, controlling benchmarks, and engaging with files and sources.

  2. Collaborate and share admin rights: Users suggest sharing admin rights with everyone on the team to facilitate collaboration. This enables easier teamwork and enhances the overall research experience.

  3. Take advantage of instructional resources: It is recommended to explore available instructional materials, such as the Zotero Workshop PDF and forums/tutorials, to learn how to effectively use Zotero. Users find these resources helpful in understanding the software's functionalities and improving their research workflow.

Overall, users appreciate Zotero as a valuable tool for researchers and recommend giving it a try for improved organization, collaboration, and research management.


(1-4 of 4)
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Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Zotero is used whenever we need to write posts or online content that needs [to be in a] proper citation format. It's software that is great to use when a resource needs to be cited when we write online content such as blogs or online posts to give our content more credibility. Zotero allows us to easily cite with a click of a button directly from the source that we are referencing when writing material.
  • Cite Sources
  • Integrates with Browsers
  • Multiple Citing Formats
  • Be Able to Pull Source Info from a PDF
  • Browser Plug-ins Can Be Self Reliant without Requiring Main Software
  • Updated Interface with More Easy to Click Buttons
Zotero is well suited for any researcher, student or writer that wants to easily cite sources for web platforms that do not have easy citing tools integrated within the website. There are many browser plug-ins built for Zotero that allow users to click a button directly from the source into the main software and from there can be more organized for citation export. Zotero doesn't work well if you open an external PDF from a website as it cannot pull author information correctly from a PDF source.
  • Multiple Browser Integration
  • Easy Citing Multiple Sources with One Click
  • Exports Conveniently to Multiple Supported Citation Formats
  • More Credibility on Our Online Posts that is Informational
  • Less Chances of Potential Legal Issues When Writing
  • Less Time Spent Grabbing Sources from Browser History When Researching
Mendeley isn't open source like Zotero and doesn't have well-built browser plug-ins, although it has a better, more modern interface. Zotero has limitations with PDFs, but Mendeley doesn't support them at all. For Qiqqa, it is a better alternative and is open source as well. However, like Mendeley, there isn't a good base of plug-ins like Zotero has and, as a result, suffers from ease of use.
Joshua Welsh | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
I use Zotero myself as a citation management system. The problem it solves is to keep track of vast numbers of academic sources. Instead of the old-fashioned way of printing out articles, putting them in a file cabinet, and never reading them again, with Zotero, I can easily find sources that I've read and marked up, and figure out how to use them in whatever I am currently working on.
  • PDF Management
  • Library organization
  • Automatic import of Books
  • Libre office integration was iffy
  • Using different word processors (i.e, Word, then Google Docs on the same file) can "break" embedded citations.
Zotero is great for managing a large number of academic sources and easily using them in an article or other scholarly work. When the Word Processor plug-in is enabled, adding a citation is just a keystroke away. Even better Zotero automatically generates Works Cited pages. And if you need to switch citation styles, Zotero can do most of the work with just a few clicks of the mouse.

It's less good at collecting day-to-day recourses such as websites you want to visit later. It's really aimed at producing academic writing, and it does that amazingly well.
  • Source Managemnet
  • In-text Citation Creation
  • Bibliography Creation
  • Much easier to integrate sources into scholarly writing
  • Much easier to keep track of source library
  • Much easier to switch citation styles when necessary
For a brief time I tried Mendalay, since at the time Zotero didn't have a Google Docs plug in. Mendalay is not as intuitive as Zotero and if I recall correctly, was more expensive. Zotero works very well, and ultimately I found myself back in Zotero because it's easier to use and does a great job of managing my library of academic articles.
Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365), OBS Studio, Zoom
Elizabeth Umberfield | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
I use Zotero to manage all of my citations for my personal academic work (I'm a PhD student, which means that I am sorting though a lot of academic literature on an ongoing basis). I also use Zotero as a part of multiple research teams. We use the software to share new citations and files, and to cite these sources in our manuscripts.
  • Zotero's MS Word and Google Docs plug-ins and Chrome extension makes the process of storing, indexing, and citing sources seamless
  • Zotero's automated retrieval of embedded metadata in PDFs and websites is incredibly accurate, which increases my confidence in the citations created by Zotero
  • The library of available citation styles is extensive and largely accurate
  • I love that Zotero syncs your work and citations online, which allows me to work from multiple devices (e.g., laptop, office desktop, computer labs)
  • I have had very few issues with Zotero, but have heard from a colleague that there is an error when using APA style. When there are two citations that may otherwise look the same in the text, APA requires that those citations have letters added after the ear to differentiate them (e.g., Smith et al., 2019a and Smith et al., 2019b). However, if these two sources are in your Zotero library and you do NOT cite both in a manuscript, Zotero still adds the A and B, which is unnecessary.
  • I'd love to be able to import bulk batches of citations from .csv files, which would be helpful for retrieving citations from library databases that "don't play well with" citation managers (e.g., NexisUni)
If you need to manage a lot of citations, and you want to be able to cite them easily in MS Word or Google Docs, Zotero is well-suited for your needs. I've used a competitor's software, and Zotero is by far my favorite of the two.
  • I use the free software, but love how much simpler Zotero has made my finding, marking up, and citing my discovered sources
  • Zotero increases my productivity by keeping thousands of sources organized
Zotero is much less prone to glitches than Mendeley, and has much easier to use web extensions and word processor plugins. I found Zotero easy and intuitive to use.
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
At present, I am the sole member of my immediate department using Zotero, but it is a well-regarded tool in the research community. I use Zotero to facilitate academic research projects, to collate sources and to facilitate the collection and management of sources, citations, and quotations. Zotero integrates with a wide variety of other software and web-based services to streamline academic research.
  • Zotero, when paired with the Zotfile plugin, makes it incredibly easy to index sources and documents on a project-by-project basis. Users can store document files locally in a Zotero project filesystem, or merely store links to files stored elsewhere.
  • Zotero plays extremely nicely with PDF documents, thanks again to the Zotfile plugin: I can highlight sections of a PDF article's text and Zotero indexes these "pull quotes" in a searchable and well-organized manner for easy extraction when it comes time to synthesize my sources into a new paper.
  • Zotero automates the production of properly-formatted references (including APA, MLA, Chicago, and others), making it a breeze to create accurate and complete bibliographies.
  • Zotero's library system provides a straightforward graphical user interface to manage multiple research projects and associated files, including the ability to easily add items to a project by ISBN, DOI, PMID, and arXiv IDs.
  • Zotero is a free, independent open-source project, and as such, it depends on the support of its users and developer community to extend the software and address bugs. Personally, I prefer the open-source approach but some users may wish for a paid option with dedicated support.
  • The Zotfile plugin is a must-have extension that turbocharges Zotero for me; however, it doesn't ship as part of Zotero, it must be installed by end-users, a process which involves .XPI files. This isn't a big deal, but it may be too much for non-technical users. It would be nice to see this functionality included in the core application.
  • Zotero does take a small investment of time for even tech-savvy end-users to get into the flow -- but once that small learning curve is scaled, it is intuitive and empowering.
Zotero (with its good buddy Zotfile) is well suited for any researcher who wants to go completely paperless in their research process, or who wants a centralized library system to manage their research projects, including attachments, notes, annotations, sources, and bibliographies. It is geared towards academic and social sciences researchers.

Zotero is a powerful tool with a learning curve, and as such it might not be worth the investment of time and energy for end-users with simple research project needs.
  • Zotero is a free toolset, so my investment is limited to my time spent installing and configuring the product and the Zotfile extension, and teaching myself how to use it effectively -- and this time was very well spent, as Zotero and Zotfile greatly eased my efforts in researching and writing a large thesis paper. I estimate that, after taking my time investment into account, I have saved at least 50 hours of research time by going fully paperless with Zotero.
  • Zotero and Zotfile allow me to use the internet fearlessly as a research tool, as they help to automate away all of the minutiae of digital research. I have saved at least three hours of time managing my references page (this is a separate time saving from the research time I mention above).
  • By abstracting away most of the tedium associated with academic research, Zotero and Zotfile empowered me to focus on the actual research, allowing me to craft an exceptionally strong thesis project and paper that helped me secure first place in my master's program cohort.
Like Zotero, Mendeley is also available for MacOS, Windows, and Linux. It's also available for iOS and Android, whereas Zotero is not. Mendeley is not open source but is free, as well. Zotero's browser integration is superior to Mendeley's, however.

Qiqqa is limited to Windows and Android environments, making it a non-starter for me.

JabRef supports MacOS, Windows, and Linux, but focuses on bibliography reference management; I need Zotero's annotation extractions and file management capabilities.
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