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Zotero: Collaboration

This guide will help you use the free online citation and research management tool Zotero to organize citations from Library catalogs and databases.

Create a Group

1. At, login to your account.

2. Go to

3. Choose a name for your group, and choose the type of group .

4. Set and save your Group Settings and Library Settings.

5. Under Members Settings you can designate roles for members and invite new members. You can send the invitations using email addresses or Zotero usernames. 

Member roles are:

  • Group owner: can change group public/private status, control access by members, change group settings, and delete/transfer ownership of a group.
  • Administrator: change group public/private status, control access by members, and change group settings.
  • Member: edit group library according to access level determined by administrator or group owner.


Syncing Zotero Groups

Enable Data Syncing and your group library will appear in the Zotero client in the left column. Personal and group libraries are completely separate, although items can be copied between libraries by dragging them back and forth. Any items dragged into groups are separate copies, so if you make changes to an item in a group library, those changes will not be reflected in the copy of the item in My Library (unless you drag the item back into My Library.)

Best practices for group libraries

  • For all group members, consider creating a personal library as a holding zone for references before you add to the group library. Clean up the metadata here before adding it to the group library.
  • Create a standalone note that functions as a readme file about your group and how it uses tags, folders, and how the group library is organized.
  • Create a standalone note that defines all the tags you use; tag it with every tag so it always comes up in a tag search - it essentially functions as a tag index.
  • Use tags to label papers so you can easily identify and gather items like new papers, to read, get from ILL, etc.
  • If you decide to use tags in this way, note that Zotero has a default feature that automatically downloads tag metadata with references. This means that if a database like Scopus assigns metadata tags to a reference, Zotero downloads these tags. You can turn off this feature - see Zotero support for tags for more information.
  • Before you start work, sync your library so you are working with the most recent version
  • Rename your PDF files to formats that include citation information for easier identification - see Zotero support for file naming for more information.
  • WORKFLOW EXAMPLE: download a paper, clean up metadata, rename file, copy to the group library, tag it to be read, add annotations, sync.

Zotero Groups

Zotero groups allow you to share and collaborate with others in private or public groups you can create. You can also join an existing public Zotero group by searching for it, or be invited to a group by its owner.

  Private Groups Public, Closed Membership Public, Open Membership
Zotero group visible to anyone N Y Y
Zotero group findable in group searches N Y Y
Zotero group shown on member's profile pages N Y Y
Membership by invitation only Y Y N
Members can share references Y Y Y
Members can share files Y (if enabled) Y (if enabled) N
Administrator can hide library from non-members Y Y Y


Group Storage

If you create a group and enable file syncing to Zotero, any files synced will count against your personal storage allowance of 300 MB.  If you want to purchase additional storage for a group, you may want to create a new Zotero account with an email address not associated with a person, but rather an organization.