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Ric Raftis Consulting

Next-Gen Research: Unleashing AI’s Potential in Zotero with Aria

Ric Raftis consulting logo


The challenge faced by researchers is the inability to recall the source of information they have read, yet cannot locate it. This issue is compounded when using Zotero as a reference manager, as the database can contain an extensive amount of information and papers. Despite the introduction of custom GPTs, which showed promise in querying the database of PDFs within Zotero, initial attempts were unsuccessful. However, the Aria Research Assistant add-on for Zotero offers an effective solution for searching the database.

This article, accompanied by a video, provides a demonstration of the installation of Aria and its usage in locating articles and references within the Zotero database.


To harness the capabilities of this innovative technology, it is imperative to have Zotero installed on your computer and hold a subscription to GPT Plus, as the add-on leverages the GPT4 family of models. It is important to note that compatibility with Zotero 7 is presently unavailable. Although detailed installation instructions will not be provided here, numerous resources, such as articles and videos, can be consulted to guide you through the process. Furthermore, downloading the Aria Research Assistant plugin from GitHub is necessary. Upon acquiring the .xpi file for the plugin, open Zotero and navigate to the Tools menu in the top bar, followed by Add-ons. This action will reveal a modal containing a gear icon in the top-right corner. Click on it and choose “Install Add-on from file.” Next, locate and select the downloaded Aria Research Assistant xpi file using the Finder or Explorer window. Zotero will then prompt the installation of the plugin.

After the successful installation of the Aria Research Assistant, return to the Add-ons page. From there, use the Aria plug-in to locate the hyperlink for “More.” Click on “More,” and enable the “Automatic Updates” option. Subsequently, close the window. To configure the plug-in, proceed to “Edit” and “Preferences” to access the Aria Research Assistant settings. On the far right side of the settings menu, you will find the Aria option. To begin, choose between GPT-4 or GPT-4 Turbo, with the latter being the recommended option. Next, insert your OpenAI API key, which should already be available to you as a subscriber. If desired, you may also provide your email for feedback purposes. Finally, click “OK” to complete the configuration process.


The add-on serves multiple functions and has displayed unexpected potency. To better illustrate its capabilities, a video demonstration will be provided, as a written explanation may prove convoluted. Moreover, the add-on’s readme file on the GitHub repository includes several GIFs to offer further clarification. This application allows for the comparison of documents to identify discrepancies, the querying of definitions, and the retrieval of an individual’s perspective on a specific topic from a database, as will be showcased in the video.


To summarise, it is fitting to express gratitude to Mushtaq Bilal, who initially brought this add-on to my attention via Twitter. This add-on effectively augments the Zotero experience, expedites research, and enables more efficient analysis of papers by facilitating the rapid extraction of specific information. By posing targeted questions, users can obtain precise answers, which can be verified for reliability through a series of tests. Although the add-on may currently exhibit some sluggishness due to its comprehensive scanning of the Zotero database, its potential benefits outweigh these limitations. While the interface could be improved aesthetically, it is anticipated that this will be addressed in future updates. Ultimately, this add-on holds great promise as an invaluable tool for streamlining research and literature review processes.

Video Demonstration


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