Bulk Editing Advice (Zutilo, JavaScript, other?)

I was hoping you could offer some advice on the most efficient ways to bulk edit items. I'm cleaning a library of ~1700 items and I need to do several things:

1.a.For some items, the working paper number is in the title field. For example:

type = journal article
title = example title. NBER Working Paper no. ##
journal = National Bureau of Economic Research

1.b. In other cases, the working papers have varying formats throughout the library, for example (and there can be formats other than this one):

type = report
title = example type
report number = ##
Report Type = Working Paper
Institution = National Bureau of Economic Research

What I would like is to convert both (a) and (b) into:

type = journal article
title = example title
journal = NBER Working Paper no. ##

Do you have any suggestions on how to best accomplish this? I see in several posts that JavaScript is recommended for bulk editing, and I am wondering if this would be suitable here. Another option could be exporting to Excel and then importing again -- at least for (a)I could split the title at the period and replace this with the existing journal field (but with this option I'd want to be sure to avoid any duplication or loss during transmission).

2. Missing journals: some papers are missing journals. They will not be the same journal, so I will be looking each each paper up. I think it's easiest to find which ones are missing is by adding the "Publication" field to the center pane and seeing which ones are empty. In this case, I am not sure if there's anything that's really faster or better than manual editing -- is there?

3. Missing abstracts: the way I've found missing abstracts is by querying "Abstract / does not contain / a" in advanced search. I then save the search, which creates a subcollection of the results. The papers obviously have different abstract and I will again have to look up each missing one, but do you have any tips on any way I can improve upon this task?

4. Add tags to all items and multiple tags to the same item: this one I'm least worried about since it seems to be easily accomplished with Zutilo, but I thought I'd mention it in case it can be combined in a solution to the above.

Thank you in advance for any insights you may be able to share!

  • It can certainly be done in JavaScript, but you'd need some knowledge of Zotero's internal API. It might be a little easier to do it via the Zotero web API with pyzotero.

    If you do it locally, it's probably easiest to group items manually using the UI and/or a saved search, select all items, and then apply specific changes to the entire group of selected items via some JS code.

    And in all cases, make sure you have a backup of your zotero.sqlite file, and auto-sync temporarily disabled, before doing anything.
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