This document describes how to share records & bibliographies among different users and answers sharing-related questions.

Benefits of sharing your bibliographic records with other users

refbase was developed to allow different users to share the same pool of bibliographic records. By collaboratively working on the same bibliographic dataset, members of a research group can work more efficiently since it means less work for each individual group member. A shared reference database will also help everyone in the group to stay on top of the most recent literature. In addition, it allows you to build shared bibliographies and fulltext repositories for particular research topics, groups or authors.

How can I share a record with others?

By default, a record is "owned" by the person who added or imported it. For each record, the name of the record's owner is listed at the beginning of the location field which is shown in details view (but can also be displayed in list view using the Display Options form).

You can "subscribe" to an existing record (that's owned by somebody else) using these steps:

  • Login to your refbase database.
  • Find the record you'd like to add to your own library of records.
  • Click the 'edit record' link (the little "pencil" icon) that's displayed next to your record.
  • At the very bottom of the displayed editing form, choose 'add my name & email address' from the drop-down menu.
  • Click the 'Save Changes' button.

This will add the record to your own library, and the record will be returned when clicking the 'My Refs' link on any search results page. Note that your name will also be appended to the contents of that record's location field, which tells other users that this record belongs to your personal library of records.

Can everybody view & edit my own records?

Yes and no. refbase works similar to a wiki where every (logged-in) user is allowed to view & edit the common fields of every database record. This is done to encourage collaboration and generally helps to improve the quality of your records (more info). However, the admin is able to globally disallow editing for particular users and future versions may allow for record-specific access control (see below).

It's also worth noting that every user has a list of private fields (we call them user-specific fields) which are marked with a yellow background color. Since each user will only be able to view & edit his own user-specific fields, you can rest assured that your input within these "yellow" fields will be kept private.

How can I browse bibliographies of other users?

Want to see all records in the library of a particular user? This can be done by searching the location field for that user's name (or parts of it). The location field is availabe in Advanced Search as well as the Search within Results form that's displayed on any search results page. So, one way of displaying another user's entire library would be to click the 'Show All' link in the page header, then searching the location field for that user's name using the 'Search within Results' form. (see below for future plans regarding the browsing of other user's bibliographies)

As always, you can use the 'Search within Results' and 'Display Options' forms to further narrow down your search results and customize its display. If you've found some interesting records, you may want to subscribe to them (see above) or add them to your personal groups. Also note that you can easily save any search result set (including its current display settings) using the 'save' link in the page header. Results of any saved query can be easily recalled via the 'Recall My Query' form on the main page.

How can I track literature on my research topic or from a particular author?

refbase offers several methods to discover newly added records that match a particular topic or author:

Links on main page

You can always checkout recently added records via any of the relevant links on the main page (added: today | yesterday | last 7 days | since last login), then use the 'Search within Results' functionality to find records that interest you. See below for more fine-tuned and/or automatic ways to stay on track with recent database additions.

Email notifications

The database admin can setup a mailing list for the purpose of refbase notifications. If you're subscribed to such a mailing list, refbase will let you know via email whenever a new record is added to the database. The email will contain the main bibliographic info of the newly added record as well as a direct link to its full record details in the database. A screenshot of such an email notification is available here. Most current email clients will allow you to filter the refbase email notifications for particular topics or authors.

Saved queries

If you'd only like to see records matching a particular topic or author, you could perform a query for your desired search term(s), sort results by creation date and save the query using the 'save query' feature. Choosing again your saved query (via the 'Recall My Query' form on the main page) will always display all records matching your saved search terms, with newly added records being listed at the top of your search results list. An example for this method is given here.

Custom RSS feeds

refbase can generate RSS feeds from your searches. This allows you to use your RSS newsreader to track newly added records matching a certain topic or author. To do so, simply perform a query for your desired search term(s), then subscribe to the RSS feed that's available via the 'RSS' link in the page header above the search results list. (more info)

How can I build shared bibliographies for particular research topics, groups or authors?

refbase allows you to construct links to automatically updating bibliographies of particular topics, groups or authors. These links can be included in your web pages, and users could subscribe to any of your shared bibliographies via RSS feeds. The feature is described in more detail (and with many examples) here and here.

Future plans

We plan to open up the refbase group (aka tagging) mechanism so that groups can be made public, group-specific or private. This will enable users to share their groups with each other and establish a common categorization system. In addition, we'd like to implement a simple note taking system where multiple notes/comments could be attached to a particular record and which could also be made public, group-specific or private. (more info)

Future versions of refbase may also allow record owners to set fine-grained access control on record level. This would enable the record owner (or the admin) to specify who'll be permitted to view or edit a particular record (see our planned feature "record-specific permissions").

With regard to browsing of other user's bibliographies, we have started to develop a generic "browse" feature which will make it easy to browse your refbase database by particular field values (such as authors, keywords, users, etc). This would give you easy access to the bibliographies of all database users directly from the main page.