How do we organise, archive, and communicate our collective knowledge?

Interesting IEEE paper (sadly with paywall…) about “A defined process for project post mortem review”:

P.S. Oh! Here’s a link to the full text:

Guidance on the usefulness of, and best practices for, keeping a changelog:

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Hi All -

Would folks here be open to converting the Open Hardware Zotero group into a Public, but closed membership group? (Info here: groups [Zotero Documentation])

This would enable the sharing/syncing of actual PDFs and snapshots. My intention is to then figure out a Zotero-localLLM/RAG system to make better use of these attachment/resources.

Anyone would still be able to join the Group - they just need admin approval. (Perhaps @briannaljohns could also become an admin).

If it makes sense we *could later build something like this (with kerko or another tool).


Hi @eric thanks and I like the idea. Just to confirm, you’re talking about this group right??

I think turning it into public but closed membership is OK considering the benefits and uses you outlined.

Is this something that the current admin @unixjazz needs to do???

thanks @hpy. Yes, that’s the group. @unixjazz would need to make the change.

I just realized that Group libraries can’t use WebDAV (sync [Zotero Documentation]). Also, “Group file storage always draws from the storage account of the group owner.” (Zotero | Storage).

If @unixjazz doesn’t have a paid storage subscription we can use mine (I pay yearly for the unlimited option to support the project). I’m open to other options.


OK, thanks @eric! Sounds like we need @unixjazz to chime in.

And thanks for generously offering your Zotero storage, that was the next thing I was going to ask. :sweat_smile:

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The group is now public / closed—but I still think it is best to keep it public / open.

For storing PDFs: it would be best to save the links to the documents, not the documents themselves to keep the Zotero library light.

Thanks @unixjazz. I’m curious why you prefer to keep the library ‘light’.

A few friendly counterarguments:

  • Many of the links to older docs are dead. It’s also extra work for folks to seek out the PDF, rather than just open it within zotero or a reader or their choice.
  • We could have both links to the PDFs and the PDFs.
  • Not positive, but if someone joins the closed group, I *think they can decide whether to sync the PDFs of a specific group locally?
  • Library currently has only 294 items. If each has a PDF this is already quite ‘light’. Likely far less than 1GB.
  • It’s possible to now include snapshots of webpages as attachments, enabling archival/retrieval of more diverse open hardware resources.
  • Useful to have PDFs/snapshots in the a library to start making use of LLM/RAG tools (i.e. GitHub - lifan0127/ai-research-assistant: Aria is Your AI Research Assistant Powered by GPT Large Language Models but using local/open source LLMs).

We could make second library/group if people prefer. We can simply copy all existing items over and add the attachments and new items. But I’m not sure why we wouldn’t just use the current group.

My intention is to next put out a call for folks in GOSH and elsewhere to submit their PDFs (and ideally snapshots). For people who want to share resources without joining the group I would provide a nextcloud folder where anyone can drop PDFs anonymously which would be added to the library. I suspect there are some hidden gems out there that could be useful to the community.

tl:dr #icanhazpdfs?

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I can see both sides to the argument here.

Having the PDFs is nice as it:

  • Guarantees the content is available to all in the group - in theory with DOIs and open access this shouldn’t be an issue. But the reality is that it is a real issue
  • Allows the sharing and preservation of notes on the text
  • It allows in-text searching which is hugely important, if you remember you read something, you rarely remember the title, but you might remember the content enough to search.

I think there is a downside to information being only open if you register. This barrier to entry stops casual observing, and it provides a barrier to entry that some people are not comfortable with. Especially those who have no idea if they are interested in participating, being able to freely browse without an account is beneficial. I think many open source communities have a high number of passive members, engaging these passive members is how the community grows its active membership.

I suppose the question is whether guaranteed full text availability and note sharing is important enough to active users that we want to inconvenience passive users. I think it is also worth questioning how many passive community members are likely to be using the zotero at all.

I don’t have answers to these questions. But it would be interesting to hear other peoples takes. I think the biggest worry I have is that passive community members are by their very nature are unlikely to comment.

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Anyone (regardless of membership) should still be able to see the library contents here: Zotero | Your personal research assistant

Only PDF/attachment access is restricted to those who join, and membership is subject to approval by either the owner or admins. It would be ideal to have several admins so that membership requests are quickly approved.

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Thanks @eric.

I seem to have misunderstood. So the main difference is that new members need to be approved? But non approved members still have the right to read all the non-PDF content. That seems perfect to me.

As for the issue on heavy vs lightweight. If individual members are able to turn of syncing of PDFs then it becomes personal choice on if you have your local version “heavy” or “light”. By adding the PDFs we give members the right to choose?

I suppose the question is, is this @unixjazz’s own library that he is allowing the community to use and contribute to. Or is this the community’s library? If it’s the community’s library it would make sense for ownership to sit with Bri and those actively using it are probably best placed to make these strategic decisions.

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Pretty much. For Public, Closed Membership groups:

" If the group has a library, administrators can choose to show or hide the library from non-members."

More details here: groups [Zotero Documentation]

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The library was created as part of the “Learn” initiative of the roadmap. I created it for literature review, but I see it as a community resource (that is why it was open / open for anyone to join).

The thing with PDF attachments is that, if you have more than one library, you easily and rapidly go beyond the 300MB limit for free Zotero accounts. I think it is a good idea to keep the library light, so folks who cannot / do not want to pay can also sync our library.

IMHO, we can create as many libraries as necessary (for different purposes): there is no need to stick to this one—even though, for the purposes of lit review, it would be important for us to collaborate on the same library.

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Thank you for the clarification @unixjazz.

I just went through zotero docs (great times) to better understand options.

In the sync section they state that " Data syncing syncs library items, but doesn’t sync attached files (PDFs, audio and video files, images, etc.). To sync these files, you can set up file syncing to accompany data syncing, using either Zotero Storage or WebDAV."

So, people should be able join the group, and sync the data (library items, notes, links, tags, etc.) to their local Zotero instance without PDFs/attachments, but still access these through the web interface. The web reader is sluggish, but does work once loaded.

They could also download the PDFs/attachments and add to their personal library (using WebDAV should they choose) - with a paid storage account, under the assumption that the library will be over the free 300MB limit.

tl:dr if we enable PDFs/attachments it shouldn’t affect non-paying zotero users, and they would gain the ability to access PDFs via the web (to be confirmed). They would only need to disable File Syncing. Paying users would have the option to sync the group/library PDFs/attachments locally.

I don’t want to interfere with the ability of GOSH folks to conduct a collaborative lit review. If preferred, we can make a second ‘mothership’ group with full Data Syncing and File Syncing.

^^validation/sanity check needed ^^

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You know, I’ve been thinking a bit on this; as opposed to putting together a massive library of documentation – because, rightfully posited on this thread, folks will have varying levels of access when thinking beyond the ‘forever free’ unlimited storage of a pro account. I agree that only DOIs/OA are stable – the content on the back end is a moving target, unless you’re to pull and haul it all off in a SOLID pod or something.

Which leads to my next question - is this access about the articles themselves, or about a state of the research (a snapshot, as it were)?

Would a systematic (or scoping, or narrative) review of what’s out there, with the inclusion of a protocol for conducting regular searches, and documentation/advice for leveraging interlibrary loan/libraries for accessing specific materials that warrant a deeper dive fit the bill here?

Once a review is out there, it can serve as a collated overview of the current ‘state of’ and provide a synopsis that is easier to navigate, as opposed to a massive collection of digital content to sift through. RE: getting together a massive collection of digital content, that part is easy, it’s the review/annotation that is a heavier lift. Long ago and far away, I scripted a few research alerts that would regularly scan for materials – this could could be plopped into a UI for a dashboard-esque temperature check on the state of OSH literature; the next step in the process would be to outline a workflow for regular review, annotation, and reminder that “hey this annotated bibliography exists” to community channels baked into one or more community governance structures.

So, this is all to state - I’ve been curious for a while if/what is the research agenda here, and what could get spun up to help. I additionally currently have access to Covidence as a clinical researcher coordinating SR teams, so glad to chat about possibilities for scoping reviews++.

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I think in the interest of getting :poop: done, perhaps we just make a second library? If some people want a library with PDFs while others want a library without PDFs, then its probably easier to go separate ways than try to invent a new path which inevitably we wont agree on either.

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thanks @Sarah, and @julianstirling.

I went ahead and made a new group, which anyone can join here:

For those who want web access to the library (sans PDFs), here is the library view:

If/when it’s no longer possible to maintain the unlimited storage plan we can explore options.

@Sarah I’m completely open to whatever research agendas people bring to the table. I do like your review idea and would support a process for finding/adding relevant materials.

In the meantime I’ll be gradually adding resources, tagging, updating DOIs, etc. - which anyone here is welcome to support.

Here is a drop folder where anyone can anonymously add PDFs even if they’re not in the group(s).