Used Zotero Items

Hello -

Is there a way to determine, within Zotero, whether a given item was referenced in any document on my computer?

(This would be very useful. I'm cleaning up my Zotero database, finding duplicates and some strange entries, which I would like to delete...but I don't know if these items are used in any of my Word documents.)

Thank you.

Best regards,
  • No, sorry.

    You could go through your documents one by one and use Reference Extractor to select used items in Zotero and move them all to a temporary collection, and then delete any items that remained in Unfiled Items, but that's about it.
  • @dstillman Thank you for the info. Reference Extractor seems to only work on a per-Word-document basis, so it does not seem to provide any efficient method to determine if Zotfile items are referenced by *any* Word document on my computer.

    Perhaps the "Merge" command is a solution, at least for the duplicate items?
  • As I said, what you're asking for doesn't exist. But you can follow the steps I gave to find the union of used citations, and then use Unfiled Items to find all uncited items.

    Your feature request isn't really realistic on a technical level. The only way to do this would be to scan your whole computer for all .docx files, unzip them, parse them, identify citations, and match those to the database. Someone could make a plugin that did that for a given folder (basically, Reference Extractor in Zotero plugin form, with file scanning added), but there's essentially no chance we'd add something like that to Zotero. Like your renamed/moved-file feature request, it's just sort of a backwards workflow, resulting in a vastly more complicated solution than necessary. Normally, people just create a collection hierarchy before citing that includes the materials they want to use for a given project.

    A Document Collections feature, showing a virtual collection of the items in a currently opened document, is planned, which will make it easier to add all cited items to a project collection even if you didn't collect all of them before inserting them into the document.

    (And before someone suggests it, simply adding a flag to items that were once previously cited also doesn't really make sense, since there's no guarantee that the citation was kept in the document, that the document still exists, that it wasn't an error or a test, etc.)
  • Thank you, @dstillman. I look forward to the Document Collection feature; sounds useful. The flag you mention might still have some value (to me, at least), even if it could lead to "false positives"; the absence of said flag would mean the item was never cited anywhere.
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