Help! Zotero is broken for my dissertation!

I've been using Zotero quite successfully in my dissertation for inserting references and formatting my reference list for my dissertation. All of a sudden, today, Zotero cannot communicate with my dissertation. It works fine for new documents. Whenever I try to add a citation to my existing document though, it says "an error occurred communicating with Zotero. Please make sure Firefox is open and try again." Firefox IS open, and I can see my library! I tried copying and pasting the contents of the document to a new blank document but I get the same problem. As I said, I am able to insert references into a new, blank document just fine with no problems.
Please, I need help, I need this solved ASAP. I have tried restarting, clearing the cache, etc, anything I can think of. I have a deadline here, I'm desperate!
  • DITTO!! Exactly! Right down to the deadline! (Yes, I realize it's ALPHAware...that's why I didn't write my self.)

    I used it a couple months for a major paper, and it worked great! Suddenly today...not!

  • Well, I narrowed it down to one problem paragraph, the one I had been working on when it broke. So I copied and pasted everything but that paragraph to a new document and then I was able to add citations. Finally, I copied and pasted that paragraph without formatting (ie plain text) and then I'll just have to reformat that paragraph. Now it works fine. I guess there was a bad citation in there that caused some bad code or something and was breaking everything.
  • Hmmmm. Can you give me any clues as to what to look for?
  • No, sorry, I didn't see any code that was funny or anything. I really don't know what broke it. I had a "bad" citation that I removed (from JSTOR) and then I added the same one from a different site and it seems to work fine now.

    Good luck.
    When I just removed the problem paragraph from the original document it fixed it as well. Maybe you could try removing the paragraph or section you were working on when it broke? Or the last thing you were working on before you closed the document the last time?
  • Hmmm. That would be a good idea ... if I knew where that was. It happened early on in the day, and I kept working, doing things manually. I ended up doing the Bibliography through Zotero/copy to clipboard instead of generating it through the Word Macro. So, for now, all's well. If I get some spare time, (yeah, right) I might go through the paper paragraph by paragraph and see if I can find the problem. Thanks for your help!
  • edited August 6, 2007
    If you still have a copy of the "broken" document, could you please email it to We're trying to narrow down the cause of this problem before our next plugin update. Thank you.
  • DONE! Thanks!!
  • edited August 6, 2007
    ransomca: Could you also please send your doc to indicating the problem paragraph? Thank you.
  • It's a 100-page dissertation. Can I just send you the broken paragraph? I don't know if I still have the broken paragraph... I'll have to check...
  • Unfortunately once I got rid of the "bad" citation and pasted the problem paragraph as plain text, I didn't save the bad version. I tried to recreate the error and it didn't work. It works fine now. I guess maybe there was nothing wrong with that citation. Next time I have a problem (hopefully never!) I'll save the "bad" file so I can send it off to your lab...

    By the way, at the time I was working in Mac OS X Tiger, and using Microsoft Word 2003 in a Virtual Machine (VMWare) with Windows XP Pro, and Firefox also in the same VM, with FF reading my profile from my Mac. I also had FF open on the Mac using the same profile, because it's easier for me to find and download citations from the Mac side because sometimes copy/paste doesn't work between Mac and the VM. So I may have broken it somehow with all the windows open or reading from the same profile while both open or something. Or just broken the citation which then broke the document. I have no idea. I even downloaded and installed the Office 2004 for Mac Test Drive and the document was still broken in Word. Well, it's fixed now!
  • ransomca: It's probably not related to this problem, but do note that having your Zotero database open from two copies of Firefox simultaneously is an exceptionally effective way of corrupting the database.
  • One way you can get the communication error in 1.0.0b4.r5 is if you delete an item in Zotero than you've previously cited in Word. This has been fixed in the dev branch, but people on b4.r5 experiencing this might want to look for orphaned citations.
  • Well it broke again. This time my fix didn't work. I'm sending the whole document with the part I was working on when it broke highlighted in green. I wasn't doing anything unusual (just working on the Mac side) except I had just downloaded a couple citations I wanted to use and had opened the pdfs for them in my pdf viewer (I use Skim), outside the browser.

    I deleted the citation, restarted FF and still get the comm. error. New documents have no problem working with Zotero. I don't think there could be any orphan citations in this case because I had just downloaded them so they couldn't have been in the document before.

    Oh, wait, I found the problem! When I downloaded one of the citations, it downloaded the pdf also, and I realized I had a duplicate without the pdf. So I deleted the duplicate, and wouldn't you know, I had cited that one. I deleted the citation out of the document, and voila! Zotero can communicate once again.

    No need to send it now; it's not broken anymore. Yay!
Sign In or Register to comment.