General features

The refbase web site lists feature highlights (including screenshots) of the current release version. Main features include:

  • a clean and standardized interface that attempts to be as web standards compliant as possible
  • a multitude of search options, including quick, simple, advanced as well as powerful SQL search options
  • various display options:
    • list view: offers customizable and sortable columns
    • details view: shows all fields of a particular record
    • cite view: displays record entries in a citation style chosen by the user
    • print view: eases printing or copying of records
  • search within results functionality which provides an easy way of refining your search query
  • user-specific fields for personal keywords, notes, etc
  • save any search query together with the current display settings
  • automatic email announcements for newly added records
  • dynamic RSS feeds for recently added/edited records as well as for any custom user query
  • export records to MODS XML, Endnote, RIS or BibTeX (via bibutils)
  • link records to other records in the database (using static or dynamic links)
  • extract literature cited within a text and build an appropriate reference list

If you've got some suggestions how refbase can be improved you're welcome to share your ideas here. Alternatively, you can use our Feature Requests forum or the refbase-talk mailing list to request or discuss any new features.


A short overview of the major feature additions in refbase-0.9.5 is given below. Please see the refbase-0.9.5 release notes for a more detailed list of the major feature additions, changes and bug fixes since refbase-0.9.0.

Feature additions

  • Added support for new resource types: Abstract, Conference Article, Conference Volume, Magazine Article, Manual, Miscellaneous, Newspaper Article, Patent, Report, Software.
  • refbase can now import from SciFinder and Endnote XML.
  • refbase now supports direct import from & enter one or more arXiv IDs, DOIs or OpenURLs, and refbase will fetch & import the corresponding record metadata.
  • refbase now allows to export references as Atom XML, Simple Dublin Core XML, Word 2007 XML Bibliography or in the ADS and ISI Web of Science tagged formats.
  • refbase can now output citations in AMA, APA, Chicago, Harvard, MLA, or Vancouver citation style as well as in LaTeX bibliography (.bbl) format.
  • refbase sports a refined interface:
    • Redesigned the main page, page footer & header as well as the forms on the results pages.
    • The Quick Search form is now always available in the page header.
    • refbase now generates auto-completions (or search suggestions) for text entered by the user in text entry fields of the refbase interface.
    • Forms on search results pages can now be hidden.
    • Search results can be browsed & searched in three different views: List view, Citations, and Details.
    • Additional record info (keywords, abstract, etc) and links to cite/export the record can now be displayed underneath each citation.
  • refbase now supports OpenSearch which allows clients to search refbase and retrieve results in a standardized manner. As an example, this enables Firefox & IE users to search refbase directly from their browser's toolbar.
  • For the current session, refbase now offers a query history with links to any previous search results.
  • refbase offers initial support to search & manage duplicates.
  • Added support for direct upload of references from Bookends.
  • Added a "main fields" search option to the "Quick Search" form which allows to search all of the main fields at once. The list of "main fields" can be specified individually for each user.
  • The default number of records per page can now be specified individually for each user.
  • The 'refbase' command line client now allows to append found records to a local BibTeX or MODS/SRW XML file (if they don't yet exist in that file), and update existing records in that file if their modification date on the server is more recent.
  • The 'refbase' command line client can now extract citation IDs from a file and retrieve matching records from a refbase database. Supported file types: .aux, .bbl, .bib, .enw, .ris, .tex, and (MODS|SRW|Endnote) .xml


refbase-0.9.0 features many enhancements and bug fixes. Major additions and fixes are listed below:

Feature additions

  • refbase now offers web-based batch import capabilities for records from various common bibliographic formats (Endnote, RIS, BibTeX, MODS XML) and online databases (PubMed, ISI Web of Science, Cambridge Scientific Abstracts, COPAC).
  • refbase offers import from via PubMed ID, i.e., you can simply enter one or more PMID identifiers and refbase will fetch and import all corresponding source data.
  • refbase can now output citations as RTF, PDF, LaTeX or structured/plain text.
  • Added support for the SRU (Search/Retrieve via URL) standard search protocol for Internet search queries. This provides a webservice that allows clients to access a refbase database using a standard query syntax (CQL) and retrieve results in structured format (MODS XML wrapped into SRW XML). (more info)
  • refbase now comes with two command line clients written in Perl which allow you to:
    • search a refbase online database from the command line and retrieve results in various formats
    • upload data in various formats to a refbase online database from the command line
  • Added new sort orders that output citations sorted by resource type (peer-reviewed publications, monographs, book contributions, theses, etc).
  • refbase now automatically generates links to OpenURL and ISBN resolvers. An OpenURL resolver can redirect users to the "most appropriate" (full-text) copy of a work to which a user has a valid subscription. (more info)
  • For each displayed record, refbase now embeds bibliographic metadata within its HTML pages according to the COinS (ContextObjects in Spans) specification. This allows third-party tools (such as web browser extensions) to automatically discover and link to records or extract the embedded metadata into bibliographic search or storage systems. (more info)
  • The main page as well as the header & footer feature "Show all" links which will display all records in the database.
  • In Details view, refbase now prints an URL that directly links to the given record ("Permanent link to this record").
  • Search forms offer two new drop-down items ("is within range" and "is within list") for numeric fields. Examples:
Select Enter Finds
is within range 10-20 10, 11, 12, ..., 18, 19, 20
is within list 10 20 30 10, 20, 30
  • The admin can now control which links shall be displayed in List view and Citation view. By this, it's now easy to provide PDF download links in Citation view.
  • Upon file upload, file and sub-directory names can now be auto-generated according to a flexible naming scheme. This allows, for example, to automatically file uploaded PDFs first by first author and then by year, and rename the files according to their bibliographic information.
  • It's now possible to perform case transformations on generated file and directory names before filing.
  • Cite keys can now be auto-generated on export and users can specify their own cite key patterns (using the same placeholder system that's used for auto-generation of file/dir names and ISBN links).
  • The formatting of Text Citations can now be controlled individually for each user. The same placeholders as with file/dir names, cite keys, etc are supported.

Bug fixes

  • A user is only allowed to search for files (via Advanced Search or SQL Search) if he has permission to view/download files. The contents of the file field will be also hidden from the user in edit mode if necessary.
  • The user-specific language setting is now honoured correctly.