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Multilingual Zotero : Its Promises and Weaknesses. Fu Zhuo Research and Liaison Librarian III Miller Nichols Library The University of Missouri-Kansas City November 4, 2011. Introduction.

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multilingual zotero its promises and weaknesses

Multilingual Zotero: Its Promises and Weaknesses

Fu Zhuo

Research and Liaison Librarian III

Miller Nichols Library

The University of Missouri-Kansas City

November 4, 2011


Are you a multilingual scholar who needs to work with different language materials? Do you need to cite them and publish your articles in a foreign language?

Multilingual Zotero could be your choice thanks to the efforts of Zotero community developers and contributors who are proposing, building up, and vigorously testing such a useful and unique tool.

Multilingual Zoteroenables you to automatically capture, organize , and correctly format bibliographic items enriched with translated and transliterated multilingual data.

how i t works
How It Works

Multilingual Zoterois an experimental variant of Zotero 2.1 and works in the Firefox browser.

It has Zotero’s original look and feel, however, provides additional multilingual functionality.

It enables you to translate, transliterate, and sort your citation data within the Zotero application.

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Multilingual Zotero: Language Preferences
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Multilingual Zotero: Duplicates Management
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Multilingual Zotero: Editing Item Data
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Multilingual Zotero: Citations and Bibliography

Like the standard Zotero, Multilingual Zotero also allows its users to collect, manage, cite, and share information.

As to collecting information, it collects attachments, notes, files (e.g. PDFs, images, and audio/video), links and snapshots, etc. It also uses translators (models) to ingest information.

The generic translators can work on specific websites. Users can also manually add items if they cannot be automatically added into Zotero.

Managing information includes building up collections, setting up tags, and searching specific items within the collections. Users can also save their searches for future use.

promises continued
Promises Continued

Not only can Zotero collect and manage its items, it can cite major citations styles such as APA, MLA, or Chicago, and also many journal special bibliographic styles using its Citation Style Language (CSL).

In addition, it uses its word processor plugins to integrate the citation into word document processing and make it possible to change citations styles for the whole document.

Sharing information in Zotero actually means to use multiple computers with syncing, to access synced items through Zotero server, to collaborate with colleagues via user groups.

promises continued1
Promises Continued

Zotero can be a center for group research project, for group discussion, and for communication. Apart from that, the Multilingual Zotero has its special features. International users can enable language tags when they need to import data into the Multilingual Zotero.

They can also change the language by clicking “Quick Locale Switcher” add-on in the Zotero/Firefox. The language configuration, editing item data, citations and bibliography, and duplicates management have made the Multilingual Zotero one of the highly necessary tools in citation software market.


It is not easy to “romanize” other languages. Adding records in other languages is a huge task. The Multilingual Zotero needs many more volunteers with different language backgrounds and technical skills to speed up this work.

The second challenge is that no matter how well a record is being translated or transliterated, it still needs human modification.

The third challenge lies in collaboration process. It involves a quality control of such initiative. The last one is how to handle the ownership of the underlying metadata which are provided by other information vendors.


Pioneered by Frank Bennett, an Associate Professor at Nagoya University in Japan, Multilingual Zotero has been developing steadily. Joined by Avram Lyon and other contributors, the project is running as a beta form.

With the international users in their minds, those scholars, researchers, or simply pure users work so hard to capture, organize and correctly format the items for other international users. By translating or transliterating multilingual data, the Multilingual Zotero helps the international scholars and the students to import, store, and cite any items in various kinds of languages.


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