Zotero Canada?

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Joe

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Sep 8, 2011, 10:57:40 AM9/8/11
to Zotero Evangelists
Hello,

One of the major barriers to institutional adoption of Zotero by
Canadian Universities is the fact that users' data is stored on
servers in the US and therefore is subject to provisions in the
Patriot Act that weaken privacy protection.

This was an issue back in 2005 for Canadian institutions using
RefWorks and in response a database was set up at the University of
Toronto to host the RefWorks data of Canadian users. I am wondering
if there have been any discussions between Zotero management and
prospective hosts in Canada to do something similar. As it stands
Zotero is a non-starter for us, institutionally, if this issue is not
addressed.

Thanks

Joe Wickens

Rab

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Sep 9, 2011, 8:21:15 PM9/9/11
to Zotero Evangelists
Hi Joe,

Very interesting stuff as I didn't know any of that. I wonder what
RefWorks does with non Canadian and non US based users data
collections as I am based in Japan. My university has a RefWorks
account and won't seem to move to Zotero institutionally despite my
many training sessions resulting in many staff and students using
Zotero rather than RefWorks.

Rab

Joseph Wickens

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Sep 12, 2011, 1:14:06 PM9/12/11
to zotero-ev...@googlegroups.com
Hi Rab,

I'm not sure what RefWorks does with data from outside North America but suspect that it is all stored in the US.  I haven't heard of any other countries being concerned about this issue and know that some American companies do not see what the fuss is about on our part.  As recently as last month the university where I work abruptly cancelled our subscription to the popular plagiarism-busting tool Turnitin when it was discovered that the papers uploaded to the database were being stored in US-based servers (which had not been our understanding previously).   I have heard that the company was not at all impressed by our concerns and really could not see a problem. 

Anyway, back to Zotero, I think it is a superior product to RefWorks (and I'm glad to here it is popular in Japan, too) and would hate to see it not getting institutional buy in here because on account of this issue.

Best Wishes

Joe



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trevor.j...@gmail.com

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Sep 14, 2011, 9:00:45 AM9/14/11
to Zotero Evangelists
Back when I was at CHNM I remember having some conversations with a
consortia group in Canada who was interested in exploring the
possibility of setting up a Canadian home for syncing files. If memory
serves me right, we stalled out relatively early in the process. Most
likely from a mixture of me dropping the ball, this being really
complicated, and the fact that most of Zotero's functionality has
nothing to do with syncing data.

To be clear, anyone can use Zotero without syncing anything anywhere.
So there is nothing stopping anyone from using the tool and just not
syncing. Now, beyond that, the Zotero server code is open source as
well. As I understand it, that code is not in any way a turn key sort
of thing, if someone wanted to run it they would need to put a
considerable amount of work in. https://www.zotero.org/trac/browser/dataserver

So, currently the only features that involve data on US servers have
to do with syncing, which is a cool feature, but when you start to
think about what it would look like to try and federate Zotero stuff
out to some other hub in Canada it becomes really complicated. There
may well be options here, but as I see it these are some of the
hurdles in the way here.
> joseph.wick...@dal.ca

Avram Lyon

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Sep 14, 2011, 10:27:36 AM9/14/11
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On Wed, Sep 14, 2011 at 6:00 AM, tre...@zotero.org
<trevor.j...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Back when I was at CHNM I remember having some conversations with a
> consortia group in Canada who was interested in exploring the
> possibility of setting up a Canadian home for syncing files. If memory
> serves me right, we stalled out relatively early in the process. Most
> likely from a mixture of me dropping the ball, this being really
> complicated, and the fact that most of Zotero's functionality has
> nothing to do with syncing data.
>
> To be clear, anyone can use Zotero without syncing anything anywhere.
> So there is nothing stopping anyone from using the tool and just not
> syncing. Now, beyond that, the Zotero server code is open source as
> well. As I understand it, that code is not in any way a turn key sort
> of thing, if someone wanted to run it they would need to put a
> considerable amount of work in. https://www.zotero.org/trac/browser/dataserver

It's still not a turn-key operation, but there are groups that seem to
be running the server independently. Discussion of how to do so has
periodically taken place on zotero-dev
(http://groups.google.com/group/zotero-dev) -- take a look at the list
archives for more info.

> So, currently the only features that involve data on US servers have
> to do with syncing, which is a cool feature, but when you start to
> think about what it would look like to try and federate Zotero stuff
> out to some other hub in Canada it becomes really complicated. There
> may well be options here, but as I see it these are some of the
> hurdles in the way here.

Federated servers were mentioned, perhaps not by CHNM folks, way back
when the server code was first released. This is a very interesting
idea, but my personal opinion is that it's hard enough to do right
that it's unlikely to happen unless another institutional sponsor
steps up with funds and/or developers. The latter is probably the most
important piece.

Avram

Joseph Wickens

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Sep 15, 2011, 9:00:00 AM9/15/11
to zotero-ev...@googlegroups.com
Thanks Trevor and Avram for your knowledgeable input. Though syncing
is not essential, it is necessary as an option for users so any
institutional endorsement of Zotero will need to have this
functionality. That a group with the requisite resources and know-how
could make this happen is a source for hope. Are there any Canucks
out there at institutions that might be interested?

Thanks again

Joe

joseph....@dal.ca

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