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Guide to using Zotero reference management software

Training activities

If you would like to undertake some self-directed learning, you may find it useful to explore the following suggested activities.

Task 1: Keep this UCL Zotero guide open

Please keep this Zotero guide open throughout the session so that you can refer to the sections indicated. We suggest you open links in a new tab or window in your browser.

Task 2: Create your own Zotero account

See Creating a zotero account.

Things to try:

  • In a new tab, go to the website and click on Log in on the top right corner of the page. Select Register for a free account and follow the onscreen instructions to create your Zotero account.

Things to think about:

  • Which email will you use as your main, default Zotero email, and which will you add as a backup email address?

Task 3: Open your Zotero Desktop Library

See Working with Zotero Desktop.

Things to try:

  • If you haven't done so already, install the Zotero Desktop software onto your device using the installation instructions.
  • Open Zotero Desktop from the start menu and set up your preferences to synchronise the contents of your Zotero Desktop library and your Zotero online library.

Things to think about:

Task 4: Add references to your online library using the Zotero Connector

See Adding references.

Things to try:

  • Add the Zotero connector to your browser.
  • Go to some sources of journal articles or books and use the Connector to capture some references into your Zotero online library.

Things to think about:

  • Look at the record you have imported. Is the record complete?
  • Has Zotero imported the full text papers (pdfs) as well as the citation details?
  • Can the Connector capture any other types of resource that you might want to include in your library, a web page for example?

Task 5: Adding PDF documents to your Zotero Desktop library

See Adding PDFs.

Try downloading some PDF documents from the Web to your desktop and then try adding them to your Zotero Desktop library.

  • Try out the different methods for getting a PDF into Zotero: importing the file, or drag and drop.
  • Try annotating a PDF, or highlighting some of the text.

Things to think about:

  • Did Zotero extract all the correct details from the PDF to create a record in your library?

Task 6: Exporting references from online resources into your Zotero Desktop library

See Exporting from online resources.

Things to try:

  • Try exporting more than 10 references at once from a database of your choice into Zotero Desktop. Instructions for a range of sources are in the exporting from online resource section, you might like to try Explore (UCL’s library catalogue), Google Scholar, Web of Science, Scopus, Ovid databases (e.g. Medline or Embase).

Things to think about:

  • Is this method better than the Zotero Connector for adding large numbers of results to your library?
  • You may wish to explore some of the other methods of adding references to your Zotero library. 
  • Which method do you prefer for adding references to your Zotero library?

Task 7: Organising your Zotero Desktop library

See Organising your desktop library.

Things to try:

Things to think about:

  • When you view ‘My Library’ to view all the items in your Zotero library, can you tell by looking at a reference which Collection it is in?
  • If an item is in a sub-collection, does it also appear within the Collection above it in the hierarchy?
  • How can you sort the items in your Zotero library by date?
  • How do you make a backup of your Zotero library?

Task 8: Citing references and creating a bibliography

See Using Zotero with Word.

Things to try:

  • Try inserting some references from your Zotero Desktop library into a Word document.
  • Try creating a bibliography at the end of your document.
  • Try changing the output style from an author/date style, e.g. Harvard, to a numeric style, e.g. Vancouver.
  • Try editing a reference to include a page number.

Log completion of these training activities in Inkpath

UCL Doctoral Students may wish to log this training in Inkpath. By doing so, you are confirming that you have worked through the activities on this page.