“Note” and “Related” in Zotero

Today, I met Ellysa. We exchanged a lot of great ideas about Zotero. When I showed her how I use “Note” and “Related” functions in Zotero, she was a little bit surprised. I thought everybody uses them the same way I do, but I was wrong. I hope the following cases can bring you some innovations.

Books and Their Reviews

During the pre-ABD period, I needed to write a lot of book reviews as assignments. In order to know how scholars reviewing books, I used Zotero to collect a lot of book reviews. Since one book may have several reviews, building relationships between them can be very handy. When I search for the same book next time, I can easily jump back and forth between the book and its review.


I also built relationship between books or articles that respond to each other. I made a “child note” under the parent item called “those agree with X’s argument in (article or book title)”. Then I added all “related” items to this child note.

A Workaround for the Multi-language Publications

A lot of authors in my Zotero database write in multi-language. For example, Professor Ronnie Hsia’s publications are in English and Chinese. In his Chinese publications, he uses his Chinese name 夏伯嘉. If I want to find out all Professor Hsia’s publications in my Zotero databases, I need to search at least two times, once in Ronnie Hsia and once in 夏伯嘉. Here is my solution. I made a document item titled “Ronnie Hsia 夏伯嘉”.


I added a child note under this document called “Book”. Then I related Prof. Hsia’s English publications to it.


I added another child note called “書” (the Chinese character of book). This time I related his Chinese publications.


As a result, I can find out all his publications at one spot. I also use this method to map the academic networks. For example, I made a document item called “Professor B”. Prof. B has a lot of students. I added a child note called “Professor B’s student” and related all his/her students to this child note.

I hope these two cases can give you some ideas on using the “Note” and “Related” functions in Zotero. I believe making good use of them can turn your Zotero database into an excellent knowledge management system.