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Ideal Citation Environmment

The point of Scholarly Copy is to allow advanced, useful interactions with documents when citing and carrying on a dialog, by making the documents self-aware: They know what they are (who authored them, title etc.) and and their context.

Desired End-User Actions to Enable

This approach allows the user to copy text from a published document and paste it into their own manuscript as a full citation. It further allows the reader software to reformat the document to the user’s preferences and to extract meaningful data for an end user or a server.

A combination of the different features of including the meta is the possibly ability of parsing all the include references in the document to allow the reader software to allow the reader to click on a citation in the text and receive pop-up information about that document, including a summary, stats and the ability to open that document at the exact place the author cited from.


The proposed system takes advantage of the very human and machine readable BibTeX format to carry the basic citation data across documents and it is extended with custom fields to allow for custom metadata to be carried as well.

basic citation

Basic citation information is the essence of BibTeX and will be included wherever it’s added.

formatting info

Documents which have the meta added by anyone other than the author or publisher will have less information, including lack of formatting information which makes the meta less useful.


Ideally, the author would add metainformation to documents to make the documents more findable and readable but this has been a battle for decades and so far authors simply don’t care–it takes too much effort.

This is why in an ideal metainformation environment for Scholarly Copying, it should be made trivially easy for authors to publish with the right meta. In Liquid | Author the name of the document and the author’s name is properly attached. Let’s test. Nope, not yet, so I added this to Trello.


The act of publishing, in this model, is the act of taking a manuscript (personal, not-public document of any document format) and choosing what meta information and other presentation should be used to create and disseminate a document for consumption of the people (including the author in the future). This is both a presentation format and an information exchange format. In this model we use PDF since that is the de-facto standard for academia.


The metadata should be added as embedded, traditional metadata for fast extraction and for compatibility with current systems and as Visual-Meta for long-term archivability and human readability.

Plugins & App

Since it cannot be guaranteed that authors or publishers will add metainformation to documents, it should also be possible for the reader to add it. This is why browser plugins can be useful, to extract BibTeX (or similar) from a download page when downloading the PDF. I have had this built for Google Chrome for testing and Mozilla Firefox is being done. The problem with this is that some downloads sites/most download sites do not have BibTeX export data on the download page so I am working with Phil Gooch from to add the ability to send the PDF to his server to search for and append the meta.

Meta Addition Flow

Nobody can snap their fingers and ask a user base to change their behaviour so the environment must adapt to the user to make it rewarding and easy to carry out the extra tasks which will benefit the user down the road as well as other users. This is why adding meta to the manuscript should be possible both at the point of publishing and at the point of access, and as Visual-Meta and as Embedded Meta.

One thing is clear though, this saves a lot of time for the users; both the author and the reader.


Scholarly Copy:

Published inAuthorCitation MetaDynamic ViewVisual-Meta

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