Feature highlights

From refbase

This page highlights some features of the refbase package.  


See for yourself!

In our opinion, using an application is by far the best way of exploring the feature set provided by that package. We invite you to actually use the refbase package online at one of our demo databases. This should give you a good overview of the current feature set. Alternatively, you can also explore the screenshots linked below.

Screenshots: click the "Screenshot" links underneath any of the images below to view a full screen snapshot for that feature.

Flexible display options

refbase strives to offer a clean and standardized interface that attempts to be as web standards compliant as possible. Auto completions (search suggestions) are provided for text entered by the user, and database results can be searched and browsed in various ways:

  • list view: offers customizable and sortable columns
  • citation view: displays record entries in a citation style chosen by the user
  • details view: shows all fields for the given record(s)
  • print view: eases printing or copying of records

Powerful searching

refbase offers a multitude of search options, including quick, simple, advanced as well as powerful SQL search options. And its search within results functionality provides an easy way of refining the current search result set. Power users can even refine any query result by directly editing the raw SQL query. In addition, refbase supports standard search/retrieve APIs (such as OpenSearch and SRU/W) to allow for easy access by clients and search engines. refbase can be also searched from the command line.

Direct download links & easy upload of files

Direct download links are provided for all records that link to a file. Download links can be made available to either everyone, logged-in users only or on a user-specific basis. In addition, the admin can optionally specify a condition where files will be always made visible.

Files can be easily uploaded to the server when adding/editing records, and uploaded files can be automatically moved into subdirectories and renamed according to a customizable naming scheme. File links are included in file exports so that clients such as Zotero are able to automatically download the attached files.

Output formatted citation lists

refbase can make formatted lists of citations in HTML, RTF, PDF, LaTeX, structured text (Markdown) or plain text (ASCII), and supports common citation styles such as AMA, APA, Chicago, Harvard, MLA or Vancouver. This allows for easy integration with desktop applications when writing a term paper or scholarly article.

Citations can be grouped by year or resource type (i.e., peer-reviewed publications, monographs, book contributions, theses, etc). Using this, refbase can be used to generate automatically updating author/group bibliographies for your web site or the yearly report of your organization. refbase can also scan a text for any included record numbers or cite keys, and build an appropriate list of citations.

Import records

refbase offers batch import of records via the web interface or from the command line, and automatically detects records in various common bibliographic formats (BibTeX, Endnote (tagged text & XML), RIS, PubMed (MEDLINE & XML), MODS XML, RefWorks, ISI Web of Science, CSA Illumina, Copac and SciFinder). (more info)

Records from arXiv.org, CrossRef.org and PubMed.gov can be imported directly via their identifiers — simply enter one or more arXiv IDs, DOIs or PubMed IDs (PMIDs), and refbase will fetch & import the corresponding record metadata. In addition, an Endnote style file and PHP script is provided which allows Endnote users to transfer data into refbase at the command line.

Export records

refbase supports export of records to common bibliographic formats (ADS, BibTeX, Endnote, ISI Web of Science, RIS, Word XML) by use of Bibutils (bibliography conversion utilities), and can output records in MODS XML format, a bibliographic XML standard developed by the Library of Congress.

In addition, refbase can export an OpenDocument Spreadsheet (ODF XML) for use with OpenOffice.org. Upon export, refbase can automatically generate user-specific cite keys which allows users to use the exported data with their desktop reference managers. (more info)

Automatic email announcements

The database can inform you automatically about any newly added records: For each record that has been added to the database, an announcement email will be sent to a mailing list (or any other email address) containing the main record data as well as a direct link to the details page of that particular record entry. This enables users to easily keep track of new database entries. (more info)

RSS support

Users can track queries using RSS, i.e., users are able to convert any query into a dynamic RSS feed and subscribe to it using their favorite news aggregator. The feed will display all recently added/edited records matching the users query. This enables users to easily track modifications to the database. (more info)

User-specific fields

refbase offers nine record fields that are specific to each user: Marked, Copy, Selected, User Keys, User Notes, User File, User Groups, Cite Key and Related. You can use these fields to store personal information for a particular record, for example your personal keywords or notes. These fields are only provided to logged in users and can't be viewed by other users. User-specific fields are available in details view and can be optionally displayed in list & citation view.

User-specific groups & saved queries

Logged-in users can add records to user-defined groups. A drop-down menu on the main page (or any search results list) provides quick access to all records belonging to a particular group. Users will benefit from this feature when collecting literature for a particular seminar or when writing a scientific paper. (more info)

In addition, logged-in users are able to permanently save any search query together with the current display settings. Saved queries can be easily recalled or edited from the main page. (more info)

OpenSearch, SRU/W, unAPI, OpenURL and COinS

refbase supports modern search and bibliographic standards which can be utilized by the next generation of bibliographic clients and which allow for better indexing by search engines. The refbase OpenSearch and SRU/W web services allow clients to access a refbase database using a standard query syntax and retrieve results in structured XML format.

In addition, refbase embeds bibliographic metadata within web pages (COinS) and advertises bibliographic formats associated with database records via it's unAPI service. This allows clients such as Zotero to automatically discover and extract bibliographic data from a refbase database (screenshot). Using these features, visitors to your site will be able to use it more efficiently with the resources they have access to.

Include results into other web pages

refbase allows you to dynamically include results from an online refbase database into other web pages. You can use an <iframe> to embed refbase results into your web site, or use an AJAX-style JavaScript to incorporate results into your web pages upon page load. As an example, this is useful when generating academic CV pages which include the researcher's publication lists. See here for a real-world example. (more info)

Link records to each other

The user-specific field Related enables users to link records to other records in the database. Links can be either static (by explicitly linking to particular record serial numbers) or dynamic (by entering queries like "author:lee; title:ecosystem" which will link to all records that contain "lee" within the author field or where the title field contains "ecosystem"). Power users may even specify full MySQL WHERE clauses to define a dynamic link. (more info)

User management

refbase provides a convenient user management interface to the database admin where one can add or remove users and modify any user data (like changing a user's password or address information). Additionally, the interface allows to group particular database users and offers information about when and how often a user logged in.

User-specific permissions

The admin can assign access rights individually for each user. Permission settings are provided for basic actions such as whether one may add, edit or delete records or whether they may upload or download files. Using this, the admin can provide guest accounts with limited access rights (e.g., browse/download only) to non-members of his site.

In addition, permission settings are provided to enable or disable certain parts or functionality of the refbase interface (such as the different views, import, export, etc) for particular users.

Batch SQL modifications

The database admin is allowed to execute SQL queries other than just SELECT statements. By that, one can easily apply batch changes to thousands of records at once. As an example, executing a SQL query like UPDATE refs SET publication = "Polar Research" WHERE publication RLIKE "^Polar Res\.?$" would modify every record whose publication field equals either "Polar Res" or "Polar Res." by setting its publication field to "Polar Research". (more info)