Using Zotero for an organisation

Hi Adam,
First apologies as I know this topic has come up in the forum but I'm having trouble finding it but I'm starting a new thread in case there is an update on best procedure. I am a librarian and wish to set up Zotero for use across my research organisation (200 staff) and we have not used ref management software to date – we work remotely and all have laptops. I would be really grateful of some step by step guidance on the best way to do this. I know that the concept will be based on setting up a main group library to invite staff to. I've read some threads on synching and opening multiple profiles but am pretty confused on the order of set up (I have my own Zotero account on my laptop but I will need to create a brand new installation / organisation account that my colleague can also have access to).
Any help would be gratefully received,
Kind regards,
Wendy
  • (No need to address me directly -- I don't even work for Zotero and there are half a dozen people here who do, plus other volunteers with relevant experience).

    You seem to have the general set up right -- beyond that, it'd really be more about the exact set-up and constraints at your instutitution as well as any particular challenges you foresee -- much easier to answer specific questions than to write step-by-step guidance with lots of contingencies in it.
  • Apologies Adam, I see your name so often, I did indeed make an assumption that you were staff, thanks for the heads up.
    I'll try to break down my query to a first question and then go from there as we progress. As an organisation we work remotely and all work on laptops. We currently have the go-ahead to experiment with Zotero on a small scale with a couple of staff to establish what will work and what may not.

    I already have my own personal zotero account and zotero installed on my work laptop. My library colleague will be installing/setting up the new 'organisation' standalone/web account on her laptop. I know I can sign on to the web aspect with the log on and password for this new account but how do I gain equal access to the standalone part? (We want equal admin access for both parties so that we are covered when someone is on leave etc).

    I also just wanted confirm that its ok to use Zotero for organisations with a group library under one account/ storage rather than having to purchase institutional storage?
  • btw thanks so much to you and the other volunteers for this excellent forum :)
  • For your questions:
    1. You can use multiple profiles on your laptop: https://www.zotero.org/support/kb/multiple_profiles but I don't actually think there's any reason you need the organizational account synced to your laptop. I'd treat it as purely administrative, and all admin functionality (such as inviting and accepting group members) is done on the website anyway. E.g., I am one of the people administering our Zotero for a small team and I only have my personal account synced and occasionally log in to the admin one online.

    2. Yes, absolutely having one organizational account for group ownership makes sense and is OK.

    One thing:
    My library colleague will be installing/setting up the new 'organisation' standalone/web account on her laptop.
    I'd actually recommend for them to also just sync a personal account and have the admin account not tied to a specific user/laptop at all, just to keep that separation neat.

  • Thanks for this. I’ve just been going through the info on syncing. I’m trying to understand the relationship between the zotero client, the zotero account and the zotero servers and also what the client and online account do and don’t do. Please can I confirm that I’ve understood on the following points:

    1. The ‘client’ is the zotero software that is installed to your PC. The client does not require any user name or password, it just installs the Zotero programme and Word plugin. You can work individually in ‘client mode’ on your PC to manage your references – the client saves your information locally in your C drive. Adding the Zotero plugin will lift reference metadata from the web to your chosen library in the client.
    2. A zotero account is an account created online at Zotero.org. You can work collaboratively in ‘web mode’ across PC’s where Zotero software is installed.
    3. You can sync your online account and your client via the zotero servers by adding your account details to the Preferences window in the client.
    4. Syncing can only be done from the Preferences window in the client (you cant sync from the online account – theres no Edit/preference window)
    5. Groups can only be created from your online account (you can’t create them from the client)
    6. For our organisation, all users of Zotero would need the client installed on their work laptop as well as their own zotero account.

    In the last reply, when you say 'synced to your laptop', you mean syncing via the preferences window from the client on my laptop (rather than a different way of syncing the org account?)

    To date I have been experimenting with Zotero mostly in ‘client mode’ so am a bit confused because of this – so where you say 'I'd actually recommend for them to also just sync a personal account and have the admin account not tied to a specific user/laptop at all, just to keep that separation neat' are you saying that when my colleague installs the client to her PC, she would create & sync her online account to the servers from her client, but when we create the organization online account we don’t sync it to the servers at all (we just use it for admin and group creation?)

    If this is the case, which account would we set up unlimited storage for in order to serve the groups? Would it be the organisation one? (would the storage would link to the invited group members?)
  • edited July 30, 2021
    1. Yes. Client = Zotero desktop program. It doesn't require a username and password, but you enter your account info so that it will sync with the server.
    2. Yes, if you log each PC into a Zotero account. There's no real separation between "modes" - you save stuff in the client, and when it syncs with zotero.org, your changes will be saved online in your account. If you've used Dropbox, it's pretty much like that: your items are mirrored between your C drive and your account, and a change made on one end will show up on the other as soon as your client syncs.
    3. Yup!
    4. When you use the web library, any changes you make are immediately saved online. Changes made online will appear in the desktop client when it syncs. (No need to open the preferences to sync - just click the green Sync button in the upper-right corner of the main window. It also syncs automatically whenever it'sneeded. You should rarely have to think about it.)
    5. Yes, and the "New Library" dropdown in the client (second button from the left in the toolbar) has a "New Group..." option that will take you straight to that page on zotero.org.
    6. Yeah.
    In the last reply, when you say 'synced to your laptop', you mean syncing via the preferences window from the client on my laptop (rather than a different way of syncing the org account?)
    (I'm not @adamsmith, but) yes, syncing an account to your laptop = logging into that account in the Zotero client's preferences on your laptop.
    To date I have been experimenting with Zotero mostly in ‘client mode’ so am a bit confused because of this – so where you say 'I'd actually recommend for them to also just sync a personal account and have the admin account not tied to a specific user/laptop at all, just to keep that separation neat' are you saying that when my colleague installs the client to her PC, she would create & sync her online account to the servers from her client, but when we create the organization online account we don’t sync it to the servers at all (we just use it for admin and group creation?)
    Yeah. You create an account for your organization on zotero.org and use it to create the group and invite members, but don't connect the client to it at all.
    If this is the case, which account would we set up unlimited storage for in order to serve the groups? Would it be the organisation one? (would the storage would link to the invited group members?)
    If the group's owner (the organization account) has unlimited storage, then the group will have unlimited storage. If members of the group want to save things in their own private libraries, separate from the group, then that'll come out of their own storage. More details here.
  • (thanks; those are exactly the same things I'd have said)
  • Great - ok another question. If we have an unlimited storage subscription on the organisational account, is there any limit on the number of groups we can set up from that account? We work in teams for multiple projects and I'm wondering how best to set that up.
  • No limit, no. There are lots of people with dozens of groups, but I know of a few (albeit outliers) with hundreds.
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