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Using Zotero standalone with Chrome: proxy problem solved

Most electronic versions of academic journals remain behind a walled garden. This means you have to log into your university portal, and access the journal from there. The way it works is that access to the publisher’s site is controlled through a “proxy url”, which is basically a university-specific extension to the publisher’s url. You can get to the journal without it, but you can only read the tables of contents and article abstracts in each issue. For example, there is an article archived at JSTOR: http://www.jstor.org/pss/40401861, but I can only read it via my university with http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.uws.edu.au/pss/40401861, which makes me log into my university account at University of Western Sydney. There are different proxy services, but I think the most common is EZProxy, which is what my university uses.

I use Zotero to maintain a list (with contents) of articles from journals and other sources. With it I can easily grab articles I find, catalogue them for later citation and paste references into the works that I author.

In days gone by, if you wanted to do a literature search, you’d go to the bricks-and-mortar library and pour through various indexes provided by the publishers and also disciplinary institutions. You can still do that, of course. But now with Google Scholar hooked into all the indexes, you don’t need to leave home. You need to go from the search results to the article via your university’s proxy server, preferably in one step. When you’re on a mission, you can easily burn through a dozen articles in a single session.

Zotero was originally provided as a Firefox extension. In it, you can maintain a list of url redirection instructions, and the extension is smart enough to suggest when new entries are required. With EZProxy at my university, the translation is always to add ezproxy.uws.edu.au to the end of the journal publisher’s url domain. It happens automatically.

But after I decided to switch browser to Google Chrome, which demands use of the ‘standalone’ version of Zotero, I lost the proxy redirection functionality. I don’t know why the Chrome “connector” is unable to do it. I got tired of typing the EZProxy domain onto the end of the URL address.

So I built a free little Chrome extension to do it. Download it from here or the Google Chrome Web Store

Instructions:

1. Extract the zip file contents into its own folder.
2. In Chrome configuration, find Tools | Extensions.
3. Ensure the Developer mode checkbox is enabled
4. Select Load unpacked extension and find the folder with the extension contents.
5. A new EZProxy toolbar icon should appear
6. Right-mouse the tookbar icon and select Options
7. Enter the proxy domain, for example ezproxy.uws.edu.au
8. When you have a journal page showing, perhaps found via Google Scholar, click the button to append the proxy domain to the url. You may be taken to your login page if your session has timed out.

It’s supplied under a GNU licence, you know the one.

Creative Commons License Published under a Creative Commons License

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