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M7.23 Extend RefBank import routines to support other widely used bibliographic formats, eg BibTex, RIS, etc

01 June 2012 (brought forward from 29 June 2012)
31 May 2012
To make it easier to contribute to RefBank, both by individuals who use one of the more common citation managers and by developers of data harvesters and aggregators who can import already parsed references directly into RefBank without losing valuable information.


To extend the audience of potential RefBank users it is necessary to support a variety of existing citation manager formats. Hence, new users of RefBank can easily import their existing references into RefBank, to be stored with other RefBank references. This milestone delivers that extended set of import formats in RefBank.

Online use

Users select a valid import format from a drop-down list to match the format of the references they intend to upload, as can be seen in the accompanying screenshot. The message at the top of the reference submission box alters to match the selected format and so provides additional feedback to the user as to what they intend to do.

Screenshot showing drop down list of data formats for importing references

Screenshot showing drop down list of data formats for importing references

Batch use

For loading via scripts, the reference format is specified in the 'Data-Format' POST field. Valid values are: 'BibTeX', 'EndNote', 'EndNoteXML', 'ListTxt', 'MODS' and 'RIS'.

Implementation details

Originally RefBank supported upload of references in its own extension of the MODS schema or in plain text only. This milestone extends RefBank's functionality to accept references formatted in several of the more common reference interchange formats to extend RefBank's utility and thereby its acceptance by the user community.

Internally RefBank still holds all references in its own extension of MODS. (The extension stores a plain string representation alongside the decomposed, marked up reference.) Conversion modules have been written to convert each loadable reference format into RefBank's MODS format. The conversion covers all reference types, eg article, book, etc.

The web reference upload dialogue was modified. The screen now has a drop-down menu of supported formats. Hence, the user is constrained to use valid reference formats only. The format is passed as an extra parameter to RefBank's UI web service, which invokes the appropriate conversion routine prior to storing the reference.

For batch uploads, the REST API was modified to accept an new parameter, Data-Format. The web service invokes the selected conversion routine prior to storing the reference.

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