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Zotero for Group Work: Planning a Group

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

How Will You Use Your Zotero Group?

Before creating a group, it is important to understand how groups work in relation to Zotero cloud storage.  You should consider the following questions BEFORE you create the group, as this might help you decide:

  1. who should be the group owner, OR
  2. if you should create a new non-personal Zotero account for the group.

Factors to Consider:

Is the Zotero group intended for short-term use or long-term use?
  • If the group is only intended for a short-term project, you may not need to do as much planning for long-term maintenance.
  • However, if you want to have it persist over time you should plan for this from the beginning.
Will the members of the group change over time?
  • If group membership is expected to be dynamic, you should choose an ownership and management strategy that accounts for that.
  • Remember that your group settings determine who can add and delete items from the group.  If someone leaves your research group and you do not want them to have continued access to the Zotero group, be sure to remove their permissions.
  • When choosing a group owner, consider these factors:
    • Will the owner be leaving the group eventually?
    • Is the owner already using Zotero for storage of their personal research sources?  If so, be aware that records and attachments in a group library count against the storage limit of the group owner.
    • Do you want to create a new Zotero account for the group rather than having it owned by an individual account?
Will the group be public or private?  How will members be added?

There are three kinds of Zotero groups:

  • 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.
Are you planning to share PDFs from subscription databases through your Zotero group?

If all members are affiliated with UCSB and have UCSBnet IDs and passwords, you can share materials from subscription databases by linking rather than uploading.  You should also consider that the UCSB Library licenses these databases for use by UCSB faculty, staff, and students.  You might accidentally be violating our license agreements and copyright law if you are sharing PDFs with others who do not have licensed access.

Are you planning to share other documents through your Zotero group?
  • If file storage is enabled for your Zotero group, the storage requirements for attachments counts against the group owner's storage quota.
  • If group members are also using Zotero to manage their own research sources, you might want to create a new Zotero account for the group.  Be sure that multiple group members have the ID and password for the group account.  Otherwise, you might lose access to the group if the original creator leaves the group.
  • You might want to create a free personal Gmail account for your group.  This will give you 15gb of storage on Google Drive to use for Zotero attachments.  You can store the PDFs on Google Drive and link to them from your Zotero records, reducing the amount of Zotero storage that you are using.
  • Other file types besides PDFs can be shared through Zotero.


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