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CiteULike is a social bookmarking service mainly but not exclusively for researchers, based in the UK. Instead of letting users catalog web pages (like Furl and or photographs (like Flickr), it specialises in academic papers, and provides specific tools for that purpose.

Users can browse current issues of many research journals or import articles from repositories like PubMed using a bookmarklet and the system will attempt to determine the article metadata (title, authors, journal name, etc) automatically. Users can organize their libraries with freely chosen tags which produces a folksonomy of academic interests. [1]


How CiteULike works

In a first step, a user adds a reference to CiteULike directly from within the web browser, without needing a separate programme. For common online database like PubMed, author names, title, and other details are imported automatically. The user can manually add tags for grouping of references. The web site can be used to search public references by all users or only one’s own references. References can later be exported via BibTeX or EndNote to be used on local computers.

Adding and tagging entries

A screenshot of personal tags on CiteULike.

A screenshot of personal tags on CiteULike.

CiteULike provides bookmarklets [1] to quickly add references from the web pages of the most common sites [2]. These small scripts read the citation information from the web page and import into the CiteULike database for the currently logged in user.

Sites supported for semi-automatic import include Amazon,, JSTOR, PLoS, PubMed, and ScienceDirect. It is also possible although more time consuming to add entries manually.

Entries can be tagged for easier retrieval and organisation. More frequent tags are displayed in a proportionally larger font. Tags can be clicked to call up articles containing this tag.

Sharing & exporting entries

New entries are added as public by default, which makes them accessible to everyone. Entries can be added as private and are then only available to the specific user. Users of CiteULike thus automatically share all their public entries with other users. The tags assigned to public entries contribute to the site-wide tag network. All public references can also be searched and filtered by tag.

In addition, the site provides groups that users can join themselves or by invitation. Groups are typically labs, institutions, professions, or research areas.

Uploaded CiteULike entries can be downloaded to a local computer via export functions to BibTeX, the common LaTeX referencing system, or to EndNote, the wide-spread commercial bibliography software. EndNote export works via the Reference Manager (RIS) format. The created text file has to be imported into EndNote using the menu command. Export is possible for individual entries or the entire library.


  • CiteULike gives the users access to their bibliographeis from any computer with an internet connection.
  • It also allows users to see what other people posted publicly, which tags they added, and how they commented and rated a paper; browsing the public libraries of people with similar interest helps find interesting papers.
  • Groups allow individual users to collaborate with other users to build a library of references.
  • The data is backed up daily.


People behind CiteULike

Richard Cameron [3] wrote CiteULike in November 2004 and initially ran the service privately. In December 2006, the author teamed up with Chris Hall, Kevin Emamy, and James Caddy to set up Oversity ltd. to further develop and support CiteULike. The site is based in the UK.

Code behind CiteULike

The code behind CiteULike is a mix of Tcl, Common Lisp, Perl, and Erlang; data is stored using PostgreSQL [2] There is no API but plugins can be contributed using subversion . The software behind the service is closed source, but the dataset collected by the users is in the public domain.

Independence & financial support

The service is free and the authors have stated in private communication that this will not change. They added that no formal statement is currently to be found on the web site, since this may complicate the exploration of possible future sources of revenue, not from individuals but from larger organisations like libraries or companies. See the discussion page linked to this article for details.

It is run independently of any particular publisher and has a liberal privacy policy.

The site stemmed from personal scientific requirements. The initial author found existing bibliography software cumbersome [4]. In the future, CiteULike may attract academic funding, and receive revenue from targeted advertising or sale of code [2]

See also


  1. ^ “CiteULike: A Researcher’s Social Bookmarking Service, ” Ariadne: Issue 51
  2. ^ a b Hammond, T., et al. “Social Bookmarking Tools (I) A General Review.” D-Lib.

External links

  • CiteULike
  • Journal list
  • BibSonomy

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