Oh my god, this may be the awesomest thing to hit academia since, uh, the web. (Yes, I’m prone to extreme enthusiasm, but really, this is pretty cool.)

CiteULike is like del.icio.us except for academic papers. You create an account (free), drag a bookmarklet to your toolbar and henceforth, every time you encounter an interesting looking paper online you click your CiteULike bookmark instead of (or as well as) your del.icio.us bookmark. CiteULike enters the link to the paper in your “library” and lets you add tags, note whether you’ve read it and whether it’s high priority to read it, and add freeform public or private notes if you like. It generates the citation and lets you download the references in your library into Endnote and a couple of other reference managers. You can sign up to watch other users’ or groups’ papers in a watchlist, and you can join or create groups where all papers registered by members go into the group pool, and you can surf tags the way you do in Flickr or del.icio.us. Here, for instance, are papers tagged with the blogs tag.
I have one request from all of you. Look:

At the moment the database is dominated by biological and medical papers, but there is no reason why, say, history or philosophy bibliographies should not be equally prevalent.

Please please please sign up, use it and let’s totally infuse this place with new media and blogging and literature and games and internet research papers! I want a watchlist that will show me papers that people who read the papers I read read!!!

[Update: OK, so Seb Paquet and Many2Many wrote about this back in February. When I in my fresh head-of-dept-mania had no time at all to blog or read, so I never saw it. Seb points out that most of the content is behind horrid password-protected schemes unless you’re surfing from a university network and a rich enough university to have subscriptions. I’ve already noticed that CiteULike automatically grabs metadata from selected sources – unfortunately those sources are the subscription-only ones. That means it’s ever-so-much-easier for me to add papers from subscription-only sources to my library, because for the others, I have to type all the bibliographical information in by hand.

Of course, at home I don’t have access to the subscription-only sites. (Uh, I could if I could figure out how to combine VPN, a mac, a wireless thingy and this annoying ISP home office system we have.) And so many people, even at colleges and universities and libraries, don’t have access either. That sucks.]

22 thoughts on “CiteULike

  1. Lois

    I totally agree Jill. I’ve been planning to add online papers from my bibliographies to my CiteULike lists when and as I have time. We should start a list of lists somewhere so that we can know who to watch.

  2. Alvaro

    Nice initiative, Jill. I want to be a part of it 🙂

  3. […] read it, and add freeform public or private notes if you like. Thanks for the writeup from Jill/Txt   […]

  4. Francois Lachance

    Yes, CiteULike is like del.icio.us

    But why not use del.icio.us like you would service geared to peer-reviewed professional online publications?

    There was a posting recently that compared search engines like Google to potato mashers and applications such as del.icio.us to finer tools.

    The poster calls del.icio.us “an instantiation of a semantic web that calls upon
    the power of linking.” and goes on to suggest “[t]he listings at del.icio.us are particular apt for
    retrieving focused technical information.”

    The information commons and the private/professional preserves are linked. Someone who does not have access to a resource can post a question to a blog or to a discussion list and folks who do have access can provide summaries and field questions. And some times copies sneak out of the preserve and circulate via email to those that need them.

    CiteULike is a citation index. Del.icio.us is a subject index. Who cares about who is citing who? Less people than those that care about adding value by contributing to the emergence of the semantic web.

  5. Jill

    Well, I’ve used del.icio.us to bookmark academic papers up till now, but find it frustrating and inconsistent – and I love that CiteULike automatically does the formatting of references and also that it stores the links for me according to the priority i’ve set on them (I might read it, I really really want to read it, I’ve already read it, I probably won’t read it). I use Endnote so will definitely use that feature.

    You’re right about the linkage between private and professional. I’ve snuck a PDF to people a few times.

    But I haven’t seen CiteULike as a citation index. Is that functionality really there? Ithought it was a subject index, just like del.icio.us. Is there a citation index thing in CiteULike?

  6. Francois Lachance

    Citation index in that a user can access libraries that “cite” the article. And the user can also determine how many libraries point to the article. Technically it is not a measure of how many writers have cited the article. It is however an indication of how many library constructors have pointed to the article. See for example:


    Very interesting from the perspective of the sociology of knowledge. Note that CiteULike lists “everyone’s tags” before listing the names of the libraries that reference the article. Some libraries may use multiple tags for a single article.

    As well when one examines a library one gets information about the weight of the tags; one gets info about other libraries linking to an item.

    That’s why I likened CiteULike to a citation index. Del.icio.us offers similar functionality in terms of determining number of taggers that point to a given resource but the interface is very much geared to “push” (witness the ability to subscribe to RSS feeds for particular tags by particular taggers. Del.icio.us also suggests related “common” tags when offering the listing of tags to a given URL. The tags to a given URL are presented with time stamps. You can construct time sequences from CiteULike but the display is not meant to show the growth of attention.

    As a reader I would use both Del.icio.us and CiteULike. For different purposes. The latest on CSS? Del.icio.us Looking for articles that have the word “blog” in their title? CiteULike. And I would not disdain the sheer crunching power of search engines. To reach, for example into the comment space of the blogsphere.

  7. […] ickr or del.icio.us. Here, for instance, are papers tagged with the blogs tag. —from Jill/txt

    I don’t hold the Copyright of those shared material.
    Contact me if you have any question […]

  8. Hilde

    Finnes enklere mÂter  f tilgang p (enn  finne ut av mac og vpn etc… 😉

  9. Magnus Enger

    To me your “update” looks like it’s calling out for a bit of Open Access! As more and more of the sholarly literature is becoming openly available, it will be possible to build services like CiteULike where the full text is just a click away, for everyone. See e.g. http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/do.htm for more on Open Access.

  10. Magnus Enger

    PS: unalog.com might be worthy of a quick peek too…

  11. noah

    I was hoping to find a particular paper in there, but no dice:
    “Distributed Narrative: Telling Stories Across Networks”. Paper presented at AoIR 5.0, September 2004.

    I’m wondering if there’s a conversation to be had (or that happens regularly, and I’m not sure where to find) about how people keep track of all the references, timelines, and ideas for things like dissertations.

  12. Jill

    I think that conversation happens in the interstices, Noah… And I don’t know that anyone has a really good system…

    I found Endnote was a tremendous help during my dissertation writing. CiteULike doesn’t quite work for a humanities person yet, because they only automate databases of scientificpapers. It might become something, though?


  13. noah

    Jill, would you be willing to try an experiment? I see that CiteULike has a facility for importing from BibTeX (http://www.citeulike.org/import_bibtex). If you could export the Endnote file from your dissertation writing as BibTeX, and then try importing to CiteULike, I’ll try adding some of your material to my library at CiteULike. This would let us know if CiteULike has good potential for our community. If it does, then we probably just have to convince a few more folks in our area to do similar imports of their Endnote files, and we’ll achieve critical mass for the material that matters to us. What do you think?

  14. Jill

    Awesome, Noah! It works! It’ll take a while though: I have to manually add a “label” to every Endnote reference before it will export successfully to BibTeX format, and there’s no way to automate the process. It doesn’t actually take too long, so I’ll do some each day and get em in there.

    That makes CiteULike a whole lot more useful!

    If you want to export an Endnote bibliography to BibTeX format, you first choose the BibTeX format as your output style, and then go file–>export and export it as a text file. If you haven’t manually filled in the “label” entry for each reference, it won’t be a legible BibTeX file. But according to this, filling in the labels should really only take an hour for my 425 references, and I’ll invest that.
    EXCEPT, I don’t think Endnote’s exporting the URLs by default. Stupid IDIOT. I’ll have to edit the style sheet, I guess. Sigh.

  15. noah

    Well, this is strange. I tried adding your dissertation to my library, by clicking on the link in your library, and the page for it came out “untitled” (missing all the info). I tried with a few more of your recent additions, and had the same problem.

    I’ve posted a comment on the CiteULike LiveJournal and I might also mention it on the discussion list.

    Hopefully we’ll get this resolved. It’ll be exciting to have all these cool references available so conveniently.

    PS – My academic name should be “Wardrip-Fruin, N” rather than “Fruin, NW”. I wish CiteULike would let me suggest edits to things that people could decide to accept or reject!

  16. noah

    Okay, I’ve read through some archives of the CUL mailing list.

    First I think I found a solution for your label problem:

    Second, a software find: BibDesk. This is MacOS X software for keeping track of bibliographic data and linking to copies on your hard drive. People would like to connect it for relatively direct synching with CUL.

    Third, a discussion about connecting BibDesk and CUL, and more generally about what happens when you bring things in from outside, and want to bring them back out, and evolving standards. These are good to start with, then follow the thread:

  17. noah

    I wrote to the CUL author. He says it’s a bug, he’s glad I found it, and he’ll fix it in the next couple days!

  18. Jill

    I love Endnote – or OK, loved Endnote, to be honest I haven’t used it very much since my PhD – because of its integration with Word. And a main reason I like Word is that it works so nicely with Endnote. The Cite As You Write feature is lovely, on a fast enough computer (it really slowed down my old G3) and I love being able to insert flexible references as I write, and then reformat them later. I cite more stuff when I use Endnote, and I like citing stuff. It’s like linking.

    On the other hand, BibDesk’s letting you link to the document on your computer sounds great, and I *love* the social aspects of sharing references. So I guess I’ll be playing a bit with this.

    Fortunately the next couple of weeks – Easter, basically, starting next Monday – are meant for research, so it’s perfect timing. Yay!

  19. noah

    I heard from the author of CUL that it was fixed, and it is. I’ve just added several things from your library successfully.

    Hopefully the link in one of my comments above will solve the problem with BibTeX labels, and you should be able to import the rest of your Endnote data without too much trouble.

    Now… how do we reach critical mass? Who else do you think might be willing to upload their recent files? Maybe Torill, Lisbeth, Susana, Raine, or GTxA’s Michael?

  20. Matt Whyndham

    Such an interesting tool. Let’s hope it gets out of early adopter mode quickly. I think it will, since it has utility even for a lone researcher, never mind the social angle. I just wish my institutional subscriptions would follow me around as easiliy as my cloud of tags.

  21. Fergus Gallagher

    This ancient page popped up on a web-search. Is citeulike really that old now…? Are you still using it?

  22. Johann Gross

    Hi Jill!

    I just came across your blog about CiteULike, it was a tool that many loved! Unfortunately they’re no longer alive, that one of the reasons we saw a gap for something like http://www.citationsy.com

    I would love to tell you more about it and see if we can support your students at University of Bergen 🙂

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