What I want from Groups

I was hoping to use Zotero groups for collaboration. I have two use cases that it's just not working for. Export is needed for both: Can we have a link to export the whole library and each item (e.g. BibTeX and RIS)? Right now, unless you use Zotero, you have to add each item by hand to your own bibliographic software.

(1) Share a fixed list of citations from an ongoing, changing bibliography.

For a paper I'm writing, I need to share a fixed list of citations -- which doesn't change if I delete items from my library, or update the bibliography as new literature appears. I'd like to use Zotero to encourage others to collaborate with me on maintaining this list.

Version control/history would fix this -- because I could point to the state of the group at some point in time.

(2) Collaborate with everyone (not all Zotero users) to build a bibliography.

I'm disappointed with how closed Zotero groups are (you need to add items in Zotero, and there's no way to export machine-readable data without using Zotero).

More specifically, my criteria are:
* Anyone can add any item metadata, via a web interface -- I'd expect typing by hand or by importing from common bibliographic formats (i.e. BibTeX import, RIS import, PMID, ...)
* Anyone can export any item metadata via a web interface (into at least one common format -- BibTeX, RIS, ...)
* Has version history (especially because I won't know all the collaborators in advance)

Ideally, but I'm not holding my breath:
*Ability to autoupdate, based on existing bibliographies in other places (e.g. pull in from a specified Zotero group, a specified Mendeley group, etc.)
* Ability to accept and display multiple summaries (i.e. reader-written abstracts, reviews, ...)

  • The first request is relatively easy to accomplish with current functionality. When you move items from a personal library to a group library the items are completely severed. So if you just keep actively using your own personal library and then drag out the items you want to put in the other static library you can go back to your personal library and keep making changes. So just create a group, put the items you want to share in it, and don't mess with it after that.
  • For number 0 and number 2 you might want to look at Cite-U-like, which seems closer to what you want.
    Mendeley also has more features along those lines.
    Zotero has so far focused more on the local client than on the web part. I think, given limited resources, this has been a wise choice, but if that doesn't correspond to your preferences, do check out some of the other tools that have taken slightly (Mendeley) or entirely (citeUlike) different approaches.
  • @adamsmith Yeah, as far as I can see, CiteULike is closer to what I want at the moment. I've analyzed Mendeley's failings for what I want, too:

    @Tjowens: the problem is
    (1) the "don't mess with it after that" - easier said than done, and hard to verify
    (2) People can't easily download bibliographic data - except to Zotero
    (3) I want to collaborate starting with the list I have

    In the short run, I'll probably use CiteULike. In the long run, I'd like Zotero to develop group functionality.
  • (2) People can't easily download bibliographic data - except to Zotero
    This is definitely an unfortunate fact about Zotero's online presence. We could provide at least one of BibTeX/RIS/MODS/MARC export for groups and personal libraries (items, collections).
  • We could provide at least one of BibTeX/RIS/MODS/MARC export for groups and personal libraries (items, collections).
    BIBO RDF is the first priority, but that'll require getting some of the translator architecture (the import/export part) running server-side, in JS or otherwise. After that, though, the other formats should be easy.
  • And RDFa can be a good, low-cost, way to serve and access at least some of these data (everything that be represented in BIBO RDF/XML or turtle can be represented in RDFa; it just gets a little ugly with some features). There's a really strong argument to be made that all data served up at zotero.org ought to have such embedded metadata.
  • I certainly understand why we want to provide BIBO, but isn't the first priority to be of use to the existing wider community of people who use bibliographic data, many of whom use software that supports only the older formats? There's no technical reason why a format like RIS couldn't be implemented more promptly, and there's a good pragmatic reason to offer export in legacy formats. We of all people shouldn't require that others use specialized scrapers to read data from Zotero libraries that have been posted online.
  • Well, we wouldn't reimplement RIS generation—it's all translator-based. So when the import/export architecture is ported, we'll have all the formats. When I say RDF is the first priority I mean that it's the only lossless format we have, and things like the API are crippled until they can put out lossless data in a documented format.
  • Good -- I was getting worried that the concern for best solutions was threatening to crowd out the real need for other, less elegant solutions. It would be incredible to have server-side translators, although I'm having trouble imagining quite how that would work.
  • And I guess following Dan, my point would be that serving up the BIBO/RDFa is really easy, and consuming it (which includes reformatting it for other formats) is also easy. E.g. the one doesn't preclude support for the other.
  • I guess I have answered my own question by reading this thread but is it still the case that I cannot import to the www version of Zotero but must enter each and every reference by hand?
  • The question is unrelated to the topic of this thread, but the connectors for Chrome etc. can save directly to a zotero.org account.
  • you can already save to the Zotero server using the Chrome and Safari connectors and there will soon be a bookmarklet that allows you to do that for all major browsers (not sure about Opera) - it's currently in alpha.
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