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Zotero - Collect, Organize, Cite and Share your Research Sources: Adding References

Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources.

Formats accepted by Zotero

What standardized file formats do Zotero accept? Please see:

Adding References into Zotero

Zotero has a browser plugin called the Zotero Connector that can bring in references and full-text PDFs while you do your research on your internet browser.

The Zotero Connector only works on the following internet browsers:

  1. Google Chrome
  2. Mozilla Firefox
  3. Safari

However, we recommend that you use Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox instead.

Do note that while the Zotero Connector does work on quite a number of websites and database, it does not work 100% of the time. Likewise, the connector's ability to bring in the full-text PDF depends on which database you are using the connector on.

You may want to view this video below on how to use the Zotero Connector.


Installing Zotero Connector

Before you can use the Zotero Connector on your internet browser, you will need to install the plugin. The steps to install the plugin is as follows:

  1. Open Zotero
  2. Click on Tools and select Install Browser Connector


  1. Follow the instructions to install Zotero Connector
  2. If you installed Zotero Connector properly, you will see the Zotero Connector plugin in your internet browser

Using the Zotero Connector

When you are using the Zotero Connector, please ensure that you keep Zotero open.

To use the Zotero Connect:

  1. Head to the website, news site or database using the internet browser where Zotero Connector is installed
  2. Once you find the article you want to bring into Zotero, click on the Zotero Connector


  1. A pop-up will appear indicating that the Zotero Connector is downloading the reference and possibly the PDF if it is available


  1. Check your Zotero library and you should be able to find the reference

Zotero can automatically detect metadata for PDFs, provided it has a DOI number and it has been OCRed on your computer. Simply drag a PDF into Zotero to add it to your library.

You can watch this video to find out how you can import PDFs into Zotero.


If you have issues dragging and dropping the PDF files, you should select New Item and choose Store a Copy of File and choose the PDF you want to import.

Right click on the file in Zotero and click Retrieve Metadata for PDF. Zotero will search through a list of sources for the article, book chapter, or report and update the metadata for the item. Do note that you have to be connected to the internet.

If retrieving metadata does not work, you will need to manually add the information to the item. Right click and choose Create Parent Item from Selected Item

Now, you can fill in the information for the item manually. Make sure you change the item type to the correct entry as this controls how the citation is formatted.

You can also add citation information by keying in the ISBN/DOI/PMID.  Click on the Add Item(s) by Identifier button and key in the ISBN/DOI/PMID. Do note that you have to be connected to the internet for it to work.

In Zotero, you are also able to enter references manually if you choose to do so. First click on the New Item button, then choose the type of documents you wish to add

Then on the right hand side of Zotero, key in the details for that reference

Zotero also has the ability to import .RIS files which is often used by other Citation Managers like EndNote. To import a .RIS file, click on File and then select Import and choose the .RIS file you want to import.

The citation information in the .RIS files will be imported automatically.

Collect Citations and Checking for Accuracy

Zotero automatically identifies content, allowing you to add it to your library with a single click. Before you start collecting citations, it is important to understand:

1. How to check citations for accuracy; and

2. The basics of how your citations will be organized in Zotero

Checking Citations for Accuracy

Although, most of the citation information that Zotero captures will be correct, it is always a good idea to check every item's metadata for accuracy and then to correct and/or add data. As it says on the Zotero website, "Zotero will accurately import the metadata but the metadata may not be accurate."

Note that Zotero's output for APA style does not change title casing to sentence style. To change titles that are not in sentence case for APA or other styles with that requirement, right-click on the title > Transform text > Sentence case.

Other fields can be edited by clicking on the field. A blank box will appear for you to type in additional information or edits like the full first name of an author.

Retractiion Watch

Zotero has integrated with Retraction Watch database since 2022. This means that you will be alerted if items in your Zotero Library will be flagged with a red cross and you will be able to see why it was retracted by following the links provided, as the example below shows:


and in the right-most panel, you will see ...

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