image/svg+xml Follow

Here is what I would like: I'm typing and I want to cite something. I press a key and I can search by author, title in a database of everything ever published. When I make my choice a cite key is inserted in my format of choice (Pandoc) and the bibliographic information is pulled from that big database to a local file. This file is kept in sync with the big database and my own document, until I decide to 'freeze' it and it becomes static as a permanent record.

I would be happy enough if the big database was something that has most of what I want e.g.

Maybe what I want would actually be bad because it assumes that I'm on the internet whenever I write, and doesn't involve a local database of PDFs.

@twsh I've been happy with Zotero for citations

Works with BibTeX / LibreOffice / Word all very nicely, but it doesn't have every citation of every thing, like you want :(

@bgcarlisle Yes, that's what I use too. And I like it for what it is.

@twsh The real problem is how to manage local pdfs, for me.

@ipt Zotero is good for that. And might be a better solution all things considered.

@twsh I've tried it but I don't like it. I wish I could just drop the files in a folder and have an AI extract metadata and generate bibliographies for me.

@ipt Yes, that would be good. But going to a journal site, clicking the Zotero button to import the PDF and data to Zotero and then having an automatically exporting bibtex file does a lot of what that would do for us.

@ipt @twsh

IIRC, ReadCube ( organizes and extracts metadata of local PDFs and can also search across different search engines to download and extract metadata from online articles.

Not sure how that compares to Zotero, but ReadCube was definitely helpful for me when I was involved in research.

(note: subscription required; offers 30-day trial)


Hope it suits your needs (or, if not, that you find something that does)!

@paanvaannd it might not, sadly, since it doesn't seem to support linux :/


Ah, unfortunate :(

I also see that their citation plugin only supports Word 2016...

@paanvaannd @ipt That looks like it has the sort of features that I'm interested in.

@twsh @ipt

Yeah if you want to preserve a file structure for local pdfs you can "link" them to entries. The extension will move your files into a specific folder and link them when renaming them and you can specify sub folder based on a entry data/regular expression

@twsh I think this is totally doable, it might be something interesting to hack on.

@ipt I remembered that I used the Crossref API to get DOIs for things that were missing them in a script that I haven't thought about for a while. worked for me at some point but now doesn't seem to. It hasn't been updated for four years so maybe it just needs a spring clean.

Anyway, it looks like there are options.

@twsh I usually just get DOI's with JabRef, although I often have to search for them myself.

It's a pain that some articles in JSTOR don't have them, but 'stable uri's instead.

@ipt This looks like it does some of what we were talking about with PhilPapers:

If, also, it interprets copying a section from another paper and pasting it into yours in such a way that it creates a blockquote if the section goes for longer than one line, injects footnotes & citations, and adds the source to the bibliography in the appropriate format, then you've sold me.

I'm glad you're seeing where I'm going for that.

Of course, a full xanadu system is not strictly necessary for that (and probably wouldn't comply with citation standards in its default interface anyhow, being generalizable beyond academia), but it sure would be nice!

@twsh @ipt

All modern forms of hypertext derive from watered-down forms of Xanadu, which is optimized for permanent unbreakable links & quotation. (Even drafts are represented as extensive quotes from previous drafts.)

Unfortunately, it's also famously dogged by management problems. So, while there have been many internal prototypes and some open source releases over the course of the past 60 years, there have been no designated 'full' releases.


An editor like that would be all kinds of amazing! Plus a decentralized database so something screwy wouldn't undermine the whole system.

So, a blockchain-based system? Libraries, universities, etc. could run full nodes, which would also facilitate offline use within those institutions.

Blockchain is a bad match. A distributed hash table or content-addressable network would be better.


Why would it be a bad match? I'm not really sure where blockchain would be a good vs. a bad fit, so I'd appreciate any clarification.

I'm also not sure what the other systems you mentioned are but I'll look 'em up when I get the chance!

A blockchain just means a list where every entry contains a hash of all previous entries. The purpose is to prevent people from forging earlier entries and maintain a consistent order (which makes sense for a financial ledger).

A distributed hash table is what it sounds like -- a hash table spread over multiple machines. If your machine doesn't have what you're looking for, it'll ask peers. A CAN is the same thing but the name is a hash of the content of the document.

No problem.

(Lately, people hear 'decentralized' and think blockchain. They used to think bittorrent, and bittorrent is a better match for this use case.)

@twsh What this conversation reminds me of is that I need a *totally* different kind of *editor*!

@ipt I feel like some people use Vim/Emacs in very cool ways that I have never been able to.

@twsh Yeah. I think the fact that most vim/emacs users are programmers has limited the kinds of things people try to do, though. I love (n)vim, but it feels like a straightjacket sometimes.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Scholar Social

A Mastodon instance for academics

Scholar Social is a microblogging platform for researchers, grad students, librarians, archivists, undergrads, academically inclined high schoolers, educators of all levels, journal editors, research assistants, professors, administrators—anyone involved in academia who is willing to engage with others respectfully.

We strive to be a safe space for queer people and other minorities, recognizing that there can only be academic freedom where the existence and validity of interlocutors' identities is taken as axiomatic.

"A Mastodon profile you can be proud to put on the last slide of a presentation at a conference"

"Official" monthly journal club!

(Participation is, of course, optional)

Scholar Social features a monthly "official" journal club, in which we try to read and comment on a paper of interest.

Any user of Scholar Social can suggest an article by sending the DOI by direct message to and one will be chosen by random lottery on the last day of the month. We ask that you only submit articles that are from *outside* your own field of study to try to ensure that the papers we read are accessible and interesting to non-experts.

Read more ...