[feature request] A workflow to help get paper read!

In the past ~8 years, I have switched several reference/citation management softwares and finally decided to settle down with Zotero.

The reason that Zotero is not my first choice is rather superficial. It looks crude (or rough? forgive my limited vocabulary... need help...). Nothing fancy at all at its UI, design, setups, everything. It is just a plugin of firefox, not even a standalone software. In short, as a newbie I was eager for something that I could show to people around! However, as times goes I start to seek for more essential features, more like an adult,
- At first I just need to organize files automatically.
- Then I want better annotation tools and management.
- Then I want reliable fulltext search.
- Then I want synchronize between multiple devices, multiple Platform.
- Then data safety.
- Then simple group collaboration, just reliable sharing, no co-writing/editing.
- .....

Today, Zotero satisfies almost my every demands, without robbing me for one penny. By robbing I mean there is no restriction on a free account. (Buying storage is really not a big deal. One needs to pay for a hard disk to maintain local backups. The only reason I use Zotfile is because its unique convenience that allows a tablet-workflow.)

As I'm not gonna code for Zotero, I want to contribute in a different way, by drawing a big picture for a new feature:

** Get Paper Read !!! **

Nowadays, there are plenty of Zotero-like softwares competing the market, with polished fancy UI designs (it's true), easier (if true) citation import and fulltext download, better (if true) syncs, blabla. The down-side consequence is that one is easy to get a huge collection of papers but too is also too frightened to start reading the collection. However, owning papers does not mean knowing the knowledge.
Zotero's next journey should not be just fixing bugs and mimicking others. Please try to tackle this tough problem for most researchers, "how to get collected papers read?"

I have some humble suggestions on this feature:
- a better tool than the timeline to track one's reading effort
- make it shareable to social media
- a specifically designed workflow, with expertise from psychologist (like many researches for memorizing vocabulary)
- a focus-mode, zen-mode, restricted-mode that makes adding more papers difficult
- a browser plugin that, when triggered on, blocks a efficiency-killer list, and randomly pop up an unread item.
- a paid service to "help". (Yes, I like free to collect papers, but I would pay if it can help me read papers efficiently.)

It could be exciting to see Zotero once again being the leader of citation management. As far as I know, there is no such a feature or discussion. Glad to hear all your opinions.
  • edited April 14, 2019
    I am far from being the best contributor to respond to this post since I dip in and out of Zotero from time to time for my own development purposes. However you have a vision which should not be lost.

    It seems to me that you are looking for a workflow which will ensure that the papers in your library are discoverable and read. Isn't this a "marketing" or curation problem - getting the right content to the right eyes?

    "However, owning papers does not mean knowing the knowledge."

    It is true that there can be a lot of "noise" in a very large collections so in my thought there should be a curation process which "pushes" dynamic content (subsets of collections) to target readers.

    Reading through this forum (lots of very experienced users here) I learned recently about https://unpaywall.org/ which might be a start. I think the general idea should be to pipe sub-collections to match the preferences of remote readers. That is a workflow feedback loop and requires some form of mapping.

    I don't expect Zotero to develop such features. A better bet is to build a mashup of cooperating tools and services and automation scripts to meet your needs, using Zotero as the content capture tool.
  • edited April 18, 2019
    @dragonfly Thanks for the information. Yes, basically I just indeed raise a completely new vision for Zotero. After so many years evolving, it could start broaden its scopes.

    Sooner or later, there will be a business that helps people understanding knowledge, in comparison to the current internet that merely helps collecting knowledge. This is pretty much like an education system, like how a University teaches and guides young people. Maybe it could be the next educational revolution.
  • I mused in this discussion


    that Zotero collections might be fed into an instance of IBM Dr Watson machine learning.

    But then we end with a massive Dr Watson whose accumulated knowledge is owned by IBM.
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