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                                                   Created By: Brittnee Garrett, Frank Grannan, Stephanie Byrd, Chris Thomas,                                                                                                            Kylie Amick, Michaela Thrine, Katy Schueller, and Bill Cordell


What Are the Uses of Zotero? What Does it Do?

What is the purpose of Zotero?

The purpose of Zotero is to help people organize sources and use websites with this Firefox extension.

What does Zotero mean?

The name “Zotero” is loosely based on the Albanian (yes, Albanian) word zotëroj, meaning “to acquire, to master,” as in learning.

What does Zotero do?

Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources. It lives right where you do your work---in the web browser itself.

What can members do?

Zotero members can:

Who uses Zotero?

Anyone can download Zotero, but it is most commonly used among the student community.

Table of Contents


A. Development and Background
B. How Zotero works?
C. Getting more out of the application
D. Getting Involved


How Zotero relates to other applications
A. Comparison to Competitors
B. Unique Uses


Real World Application
A. Educational Lesson Plans
1. Elementary
2. Secondary
3. Post Secondary
B. Business/Industry


Demonstration of Educational Value


How Zotero is used Internationally



Developed By:

Center for History and New Media at George Masion University


October 23, 2006




"A personal research assistant. Inside your browser."

Minimum Requirements for Use:

Firefox 3.0 for Windows, Macs, or Linux


A. Development and Background

Zotero has many different applications.  It is a Firefox extension which is extremely helpful, especially when writing an essay or an article on a certain topic.  Zotero can be used to help collect, arrange, and organize references and resources by automatically capturing the citation information from web pages.  It creates an easy and quick way to revisit your sources.

The amount of online data and analysis has skyrocketed within the last few years, however the tools to manage these resources have somewhat failed to keep up.  Research today takes place at a mounting rate, and the need to record and organize sources in a more convenient fashion is near necessary.  Zotero, and other online reference tools, create a more efficient way to gather, manage, and cite online references.  Zotero creates a consistent way to cite sources which is virtually free of typos and other common mistakes. 

Zotero also creates a more in depth way to organize your information.  Unseen connections and patterns within the research can be found with Zotero's ability to cross-reference sources, assign tags, and quickly search a library of sources.  It also features a timeline which allows researchers to see the progression of articles written on a certain topic over time.

Overall, Zotero is a simple and very effective way to organize and cite resources in the ever-growing world of online research.

B. How Does Zotero Work?

Here is a link to the Zotero Introduction Video.

Zotero is a free download that can be installed on any computer running Firefox, Netscape 9.0 or the Flock browser.  An icon will appear in the browser address bar of any website which works with the extension. By clicking the icon, Zotero will gather all bibliographic information for the source being viewed and automatically add it to the user's Zotero library.  If the webpage the user has visited includes more than one source, Zotero will allow the user to choose which source or sources they wish to save.  Users are then able to manage the sources they have gathered by adding notes, keywords, or attachments through a pane at the bottom of the browser window.

Picture1.2:  This picture shows how to create a bibliography using Zotero.

C. Getting More out of the Application

Sources in a user's library can then be grouped into collections, or folders.  This creates a very flexible system for organizing references geared toward each specific individual.  A single source can also be saved and included in multiple folders.  In order to locate certain sources, Zotero features a search bar.  A timeline tool helps to organize sources by date; sources and keywords can be highlighted by the user along the timeline.  Zotero also allows users to take snapshots of online resources which will be stored as local copies.  On the other hand, users are able to physically enter a source into their library.  These sources may be found offline or on a website which does not interact with Zotero.

All of the sources stored within a user's library are available even when the user is offline.  A user's library can be accessed from any computer of device they use.  Another beneficial feature of Zotero is that citation format can be chosen.  A user can cite their sources as Chicago, MLA, APA, or various others.  It is very simple to move information from Zotero to a document.  A user must simply drag the source into the application of their choice; such as Microsoft Word or GoogleDocs.  Zotero is simple to use, but extremely beneficial.

Picture 1.3: This picture is showing how you can save a URL as a source in   Zotero.                                            

D. Getting Involved. 

There are many ways to get involved with Zotero. They encourage members of the community to help spread the word of the many uses of Zotero. If you have experience with computer programming, especially with javascript or XML, there are lots of ways to contribute. You can use the API to put the link on your own web page, write a translator to help users of Zotero understand how to use Zotero, contribute to the client to help fix bugs and other features, or even develop your own plugin. For people who want to help but are not computer savvy, there are many other options: writing forums, helping with the translators, gardening the wiki, adopting Zotero at your work place, and testing Zotero so that current problems can be fixed. Help spread the word about Zotero by getting other people involved, like your friends and coworkers! Zotero can be followed on Twitter and via RSS feeds, so it's very easy to share.                                                                                                                                                                    

II. How Zotero Relates to Other Applications

A. Comparison to Competitors

Zotero can be used with various web applications.  It is most commonly used with Mozilla Firefox 3, which is a popular web browser designed to allow applications, such as Zotero, to be integrated into a user's web browser. This integration is very similar to a small toolbar added on to your browser.  Zotero also allows users to download a variety of web plug-ins; the most common of which is Microsoft Office.  The Microsoft Office plug-in allows users to export bibliographies and add them to word documents.  

B. Unique Uses

Zotero, unlike many similar web applications, has made a lot of effort to make their program compatible with other common programs people use. Zotero can also be used to create brackets for sporting tournaments. In addition, it can be used to help teachers better track student records and class schedules.  For the past six years, Zotero has ran as a tab for only Firefox.  In the future, Zotero will be able to be used by Google Chrome and Safari users. Android and iPhone users can now access their Zotero libraries with a series of paid and free applications.  Here are four new applications that can be used:


Zandy is in the process of being one of the first mobile application by Zotero for Android phone users. With the Zandy application, users are able to view their Zotero libraries, edit, work offline, and add new items to Zotero.

Scanner for Zotero

This application will allow Zotero users to add books into their Zotero libraries. By scanning the ISBN barcode, with your Android phone, and the software will add the book into your Zotero library.  


BibUp allows iPhone users to upload books onto the Zotero libraries, much like the Scanner for Zotero. BibUp also allows photography pages to be uploaded into their libraries. 


ZotFile reader transfers Zotero PDFs to and from mobile readers like Android and the iPad.

Zotero in the Future

Zotero's future is endless. University researchers have been trying to find ways to incorporate it for effective usage at their respective learning institutions. They are also forever creating new versions that will soon be capable to do many things such as: highlighting and annotation capabilities, more translators, citation styles, import and export formats, web access to your Zotero library, and better integration with Microsoft Word. Zotero will also be able to be used on more and more websites.

Students at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University have produced Zotero, terming it the "next generation research tool."

The production of Zotero allows users to have access to a brand new range of features, some of which include synchronization of a user's library across more than one computer, free backup of user libraries on Zotero servers, automatic detection of PDF metadata, and online browsing of a user's library

Recently, Zotero has created a version that works outside of Firefox as a desktop application for Mac, Windows and Linux operating systems.  This application is currently in a beta testing phase that adds new functions, including streamlined integration with Microsoft Office and Open Office.

III. Real World Application

A. Educational Lesson Plans
1. Elementary

Grade Level:K-5
lesson plan1.doc
lesson plan1.pdf

Grade Level: 5
lesson plan 2.docx
lesson plan 2.pdf
Grade Level: 2-3
lesson plan 3.docx
lesson plan 3.pdf
  Grade Level: 3
lesson plan 4.docx
lesson plan 4.pdf

The Great Barrier Reef (Grade 4-6)

Lesson Plan.docx

Lesson Plan.pdf

Grade Level: 2-3 Fishy Friends 

Lesson Plan.pdf

Lesson Plan .docx

2. Secondary

Grade Level: 9

Project 2lesson plan .docx

Lesson Plan.pdf
lesson plan 5.docx
lesson plan 5.pdf
Grade Level:6-8
lesson plan 6.docx
lesson plan 6.pdf
Grade: 6-8

lesson plan 7.doc
lesson plan 7.pdf

Grade Level: 6-8
lesson plan 8.docx
lesson plan 8.pdf

3. Post Secondary

Grade Level: 9-12

Evolution of Stars

lesson plan 9.docx
lesson plan 9.pdf
Grade Level: 9-12

Human Genome Project

lesson plan 10.docx
lesson plan 10.pdf

Teachers using Zotero can makes dynamic syllabi which include lesson plans, pictures, references, and lecture notes.

B. Business/Industry

Zotero can be used to help organize sources, articles, pictures, and bibliographies when writing papers for business purposes.  Instead of keeping folders or piles on your desk, Zotero helps keep everything organized and accessed easily from work or at home just with the click of a mouse.

IV. Demonstration of Educational Value

In today's world, many students think it the norm to copy-and-paste from online resources.  Zotero offers an easy and accurate way for students to properly and legally cite their sources.  Since it runs from the browser, students find it familiar and comfortable to use.  Zotero also provides new tools to organize and interact with the resources.  It can help both faculty and students to use their resources in a creative and effective way.

Zotero works for over 400 websites, with the potential for working with many more. Zotero was created by George Mason University and is being worked on by other universities such as MIT, University of Michigan, Duke University, and Stanford University to create a better understanding on how to use it for their students.  Zotero is currently being analyzed by Seasr in order to combine the two applications together. Seasr provides a semantic enabled web driven dataflow execution environment that allows others to create their own analytical components. Researchers for Seasr are trying to take Zotero's ability of collection and data management and Seasr's data transformation, mining, and visualization capabilities and join them together as one. Researchers are also developing plug-ins for Zotero to be able to work on non-internet sources such as Microsoft Word, and OpenOffice.

V. International Uses

Zotero can also be used in almost any country because it runs in over 30 languages. If your language is not supported by Zotero, it can be added through the BabelZilla project.   Some of the most popular languages are English, French, German, Spanish, and Japanese, along with more abstract languages such as Slovenian, Arabic, Polish, and Portuguese.

Historians and other users of Zotero are also having the ability to contribute and interact with each other virtually, in the way of people, tools, and resources, to create and update particular findings and new knowledge from an aspect of combining people from different parts of the globe.  

VI. References

"Understanding: Weather." Discovery Education. 8 Apr. 2009. 2008 <>.

"Postmodern Picture Books in the Middle School." Read Write Think. 3 Apr. 2009. International Reading Association. 2009 <>.

"Ben Franklin Timeline." Discovery Education. 6 Apr. 2009. 2008 <>.

"Welcome to Indiana's Academic Standards & Resources." Indiana's Academic Standards & Resources . 6 Apr. 2009. <>.

Charles, Lake and Tracey L. Churchman. "Causes of Pollution ." Lesson Plans Page. 30 Mar. 2009. Walden University. 9 Apr. 2009 <>.

Gillman, Annie and Paige Murray, . "The Effects of Pollution." Teacher Link. 28 Mar. 2009. <>

Fenichel, Marilyn . "Human Genome Project." Discovery Education . 4 Apr. 2009. 2008 < >.

Hennig, Lee Ann . "A Star Is Born." Discovery Education . 4 Apr. 2009. 2008 <>.

Kraft, Jesse. "Classroom Planetarium ." Discovery Education . 1 Apr. 2009. 2008 <>.