Bulk Find PDFs

I am having difficulty bulk finding PDFs with Zotero. I have imported a text file that has a list of articles that I need to retrieve the full PDFs for (and I do not already have these PDFs anywhere on my computer). It's my understanding that there is a way to do this all at once by giving Zotero my institutional access information, but I do not see anywhere that I can actually input this information into Zotero. I tried highlighting all of the articles in my list, right clicking, and then selecting "Find Available PDFs", but after the search, nearly all of them say "No PDF found", which is simply not right, as I can find the PDFs individually through my institution. I'm working on a new MacBook pro. Any help would be very much appreciated!
  • edited August 3, 2022
    The dropdown menu next to the arrow above the right pane has an option named 'Library Lookup'. That will check your university library for access to the selected item if you have Zotero set up to do so. Under Edit\Preferences\Advanced\General there is a setting headed OpenURL. Your university library should be able to tell you what to enter for 'Resolver' there, in order for Zotero to jump to your library's access page for the selected item(s); it will open up a page for each item selected. That doesn't guarantee that your university actually has access to the source content.

    By comparison, the Find Available PDFs option only looks for publically-available open-access sources for items (but it can look for more than one item's PDF), unless you are on-campus or using VPN campus access (ie you are logged into your university account); and only if certain basic information on the items is already stored.

    Your university may provide other means of direct downloads when you go to a journal website when off-campus, eg Lean Library and Libkey Nomad browser plugins. The Zotero Connector should then be able to download a PDF directly when the connector stores the item details. If not, and you have to download the PDF manually, you would add it to the item via Add Attachment\Attach Stored Copy of File.

    The reason why these things are not much more straightforward is that academic publishing companies are the strict gatekeepers of the published content ... that we academics/researchers have written and then usually gifted to them for free (just because that's how it's always been done); which said publishers then charge our universities to access ! Hopefully things will be more open/easier in the future.

  • @timwr820 Thank you so much for the thoughtful and thorough reply. This is very helpful, and I see that in the advanced settings, I was able to find the resolver for my institution by clicking on "North America" and then selecting my institution. Using the green arrow, as you've suggested, does bring me to the associated file in my institution.

    I have a few quick follow-up questions, if you don't mind. With the institutional access, I have a few options that I can see for getting the PDFs into my library/collections and getting them associated with the existing articles. One is to simply add an individual PDF to my collection with the zotero connector, which works, but also creates a duplicate of the item because I already had it in my collection (but without PDF originally, obviously). The other is to individually download each PDF, and then bulk dump those into Zotero, but it seems that I would still be faced with the same problem of duplicates. So, I'm curious if (1) there is an easy way to add these new items with associated PDFs to my collection without creating a duplicate, or (2) if the creation of a duplicate is inevitable, is there an easy way to ask Zotero to de-duplicate by default keeping the version that has an associated file? Perhaps I could have one collection that has all of the articles without PDFs, and use that to locate the PDF through my institution. Then, I can use the connector to add the article w/ PDF to a separate collection so that it only includes the items with PDFs rather than the duplicates. If there is any other approach that I am missing here, please let me know. Again, sincere thanks for your help - this is much appreciated!
  • @timwr820 apologies, one more quick add on. I notice that when I use the connector to add the article to my collection (by first clicking the green arrow, using "library look up", and then clicking the connector button to add it), it creates a little blue dot next to the article in my collection. I believe the blue dot indicates that there is a file associated with the article, but it does not appear to be a PDF, even though a PDF was showing on my institutional page where I added the article with the connector. Does the blue dot indicate that I have the PDF of the article, or is it something else? I will ultimately need to export the PDFs from the collection once they are all added. Thank you again!
  • If Find Available PDFs doesn't work well enough even when fully connected to your university ...
    .. and since you already have item details entered in Zotero (just not the PDFs for them), the most efficient approach (avoiding duplicates*) would probably be to go to each article/journal site and manually download the PDF to a folder on your computer (ie click on download button on the web page, not the Zotero connector in the taskbar). Then go back to the (existing) item in Zotero and use Add Attachment\Attach Stored Copy of File to add the PDF as an attachment ... or dragging the downloaded PDF onto the item should also work.

    *Small numbers of duplicates are however relatively easy to deal with, via Merge in the main pane or the dedicated Duplicates section. After that, if you end up with two copies of the same PDF attached, just delete one.

    Blue dot icon usually means you have (only) a Snapshot of a webpage on which you clicked the Zotero Connector (click on the arrow head next to the item to see its attachments). And so in the case of a journal article web page, that's not very useful, if you really want the PDF. For some reason Zotero could not access the publisher's PDF with whatever university credentials you had invoked. In future when you need to use the Connector icon (the usual way to get both the item details and PDF into Zotero in one go), you should watch the dialog that pops up to see if Zotero is able to get the PDF. The PDF in the dialog initially displays as dimmed, and changes to black if the download was successful (and the item icon is then a PDF icon not a blue dot), and red if not. If the pdf title is red in the dialog, but you are still able to get the PDF manually from the site via its PDF download button, just save the PDF to your computer and attach to the item as above. But in your current case with items (without PDFs) already entered into Zotero, clicking on the Connector is going to create duplicate items which you'll have to clean up. By importing a basic item list into Zotero first you've unfortunately probably created more work for yourself (unless you knew Find Available PDF was going to work, but it's rarely sufficiently bulletproof for that). I usually search for article titles in google, jump to their journal page, and then use the Connector to grab everything in one go. I have both Lean Library and Libkey Nomad browser extensions set up for off-campus access to my university's subscribed journals, but that means that I don't always know how Zotero got the PDF, just that it did ! If that fails, sometimes sci-hub has the PDF.
  • @timwr820 Apologies for this very late reply, but I wanted to sincerely thank you for this incredibly helpful information! Truly appreciated!
Sign In or Register to comment.