One Group or Multiple Groups

I didn't find a groups best practices page yet, so here's my question: Are there any technical benefits to having multiple groups (say, a different group for each project)over having a single group? Are there disadvantages? If you copy an item from one group to another does it maintain its identity or does it become two unrelated items?

  • Group libraries are each independent. So if you drag an item from one group library to another you will create a copy of the item. Changes to either copy will not effect the other.

    As far as best practices are concerned, there are a lot of case dependent permutations, but I think there are two primary issues to consider. In my mind there two questions to ask that set out the two primary ways in which people are using groups. In all cases, the first question is about who has access to this group. The second question is dependent on the purpose of the group, is it a public resource or a personal or small group resource?

    If you are creating a personal or small team resource I would think about organizing it entirely around who has access to it. For example, I have a group with my wife where we share things that we think the other should see. The only thing that describes the group is the fact that it is a spot to stick collections we want to share. That library is full of idiosyncratic lists of stuff. Whenever I want to share something with her I just make a collection in there and stick stuff into it. If the group serves no public purpose, like this group, I would think about arranging them strictly around who accesses them.

    Now, there are also a lot of groups that exist primary as public lists. One of my favorite such groups is, horses in history and culture. In this case, while the group has a small number of members, its goal is to present a focused public bibliography of resources, so the principle decision about whether or not to put something in here is about whether or not it fits with the content.
  • I would vote for one library. We have a research group of about ten people and often write together. Many of the papers share a large number of references. What we did is that we created a new account for the group and then purchased 10GB of storage for this user. Next we set up a group library with the new account and invited all members of the group to join. Now we have a hierarchical structure of collection. On the first level there are papers, people, and research methods. Every time we start a new paper, we create a new collection under papers. The people collection then contains a folder for each person if they want to put something in the library and the research methods folder contains material including articles and scanned books

    The advantages:
    -If you want to use i.e. a book with several papers, the scanned PDFs are stored only once since there is just one item that is linked to collections
    -Collections can be collapsed hierarchically but multiple libraries always take up space vertically. Once the number of libraries grows beyond ten, this becomes an issue at least for me.
    -No need to separately invite people each time you start a paper
    -No problems with someone not having access to a collection and hence getting warnings from Zotero word plugin about missing citations.

    The disadvantages
    -If someone is offline for a while or is low on disc space, the multigigaby library can bit bit large
    -If we want to write with people outside our group, we would need to share this library

    Since we mostly collaborate as a group, one library is better for us. That does not prevent creating a new library, if you need to share just a subset of references.

    It would be usefull to have group library best practices in the wiki.
  • mronkko, our situation is much like yours. We have 11 researchers that may share references. We created a new account for the group and purchased space. For each subject area we are creating a collection and then a subcollection for each paper.

    One thing we may do is not load results of initial searches (100s of references) into Zotero because of its apparent size limitations. We may only load into Zotero after we have initially scanned titles and start to retrieve abstracts and papers. We wanted to standardize on one reference manager, but with users reporting problems syncing after 15,000 or so references, we may still use Reference Manager for initial searches.
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