Moving references from Zotero to Endnote: Part I

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Software to manage research references can be very useful indeed, and I’ve spent a lot of time using it to organize my references. Currently my two main programs are Zotero, an open source project, sponsored by George Mason University, and Endnote, the most widely used commercial program, published by Thomson Reuters.

There are many functions and options available in Endnote that are not available in Zotero, and also vice versa, so I want to be able to move my references back and forth between them. It is still not possible to do this completely, but there are ways to simplify the task.

One of the most annoying problems has been the difficulty of correctly importing pdf file links from Zotero references into Endnote references. Both programs allow you to put links to pdf files into your references, but there is a catch. When I export my Zotero references into .ris export format, I have to choose whether or not to export files. If I choose this, Zotero will physically copy all the linked files to the folder where the .ris export file is saved, copying them as slowly as possible, sometimes taking over half an hour for just a hundred references! What makes this doubly infuriating is that it is completely unnecessary, because I only need the link, not the file. And even after all this, it will still require hand editing to get the links imported into Endnote to conform to my pdf folder structure.

This is an incredibly annoying problem, but it can be easily resolved with just two keystrokes. Go to the “translators” folder of your zotero installation and use a text editor to open the file RIS.js Search for the following line:


comment this line out by adding two slashes in front of it:


Now try to export some references. Zotero will still ask whether you want to export files; check the box, and Zotero will write ONLY an .ris file, with a CORRECT link to the location where the pdf files are really stored, eliminating the horribly slow copying, and the error prone hand editing problems that the old method produced. This means Zotero and Endnote can now share the same pdf files and folders, and you can move your references back and forth between the two programs without messing up the links to the files.

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