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Zotero for Group Work: Creating a Group

This guide is designed for research groups that want to share citations and files through Zotero.

Getting Started

In order to work collaboratively with others using Zotero, each person in the group should:

  • Install the Zotero desktop software and the Zotero connector on at least one browser
  • Create a Zotero account and sync their desktop version of Zotero with their online account
  • Understand the basics of Zotero use

Picking a Group Owner

The answers to the questions on the previous tab should help guide you in deciding who should be the group owner.  It is also important to understand that the storage requirements for a Zotero group count against the storage quota of the group owner.

For this reason, consider this advice from the Zotero website documentation about setting up an Zotero account just for your group:

If this is a group for a team, lab, or organization, we recommend setting up a separate account for the team to function as the owner of the group, with at least two people knowing the login information. This way, you will not be locked out of the group if the group owner were to leave the team or organization.

You might want to consider creating a Gmail account specifically for the group.  This account can be used to create the group Zotero account, and for storage of Zotero attachments.  If you do this, be sure that multiple members of the group have the ID and password of both the Gmail account and the Zotero account.  You will also need to give all group members access to both the Zotero group and the Google Drive folders or files.

Transferring Ownership:  If you need to transfer the ownership of the group to a different member, go to the "Group Settings" tab for the group on the Zotero site.  There is a transfer tool on the lower right-hand side of the page.  This is also where you can delete a group if it is no longer needed.

Creating the Zotero Group

You can initiate the creation of a Zotero group either from the desktop client or on the Zotero website.  However, if you begin from the desktop client you will just be redirected to the Zotero site.

  1. Start at the Zotero site (
  2. Log into your personal or group Zotero account (the link is at upper right on the site)
  3. Click on the Zotero Groups page:
  4. Click on the link to "Create a New Group" (just under the page header)
  5. Choose a name for your group
  6. Choose a group type:
    • NOTE:  Public groups do not allow for file sharing
    • Private Groups:  Only group members can access the Zotero group
    • Public Groups with Closed Membership:  Anyone can see the group page on Zotero, but new members must be approved by a group administrator.  The group library can be publicly visible or set so that it is hidden from non-members.  File-sharing can be enabled so that PDFs and other documents can be shared between group members.
    • Public Groups with Open Membership:  The group page on Zotero is public, and anyone can join instantly.  The group library can be set so that it is publicly visible or just viewable by members.  Public, open groups cannot use the file-sharing feature of Zotero groups.
  7. Create your group.

Next, choose the settings for your group.  See the box below.


Group Settings * Member Settings * Library Settings

Once you have created your group, there are three screens through which you can control the settings for the group.

Group Settings

On this screen you can edit:

  • Group Name
    • Change the name of the group
  • Description
    • Add a description of the group
  • Disciplines
    • Select disciplines that describe the group
    • This is optional, and will really only be useful if you intend to make the group public.
  • Group URL
    • Add a group URL to the group's website
  • Enable Comments
    • This might be useful for allowing group members to communicate with each other about the group

Membership Settings

On this screen you manage:

  • Current Members
    • See a list of all the group members
    • The person must accept the invitation to join the group before you can assign them a role
      • See "Member Invitations" in the next section
    • Update the roles for each group member
      • Select the role and click on the "Update Roles" button
      • This is also how you can remove members from the group
  • Member Invitations
    • Invite people to join the group
    • It is best to use people's Zotero account names
    • You can use email addresses, but they must be the email address associated with their Zotero accounts
    • Invited members will receive an email notifying them of the invitation
    • They must log into their Zotero accounts to accept the invitation
      • Click on "Groups"
      • Look for group invitations at right and select "Join"

Library Settings

On this screen you can control:

  • Group Type
    • NOTE:  Public open groups cannot use the file-sharing features of Zotero
  • Library Reading
    • Control who can see the items in the group library
  • Library Editing
    • Determine who can add, edit, or remove items from the group library
  • File Editing
    • Determine who can work with files stored in the group library


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