3 Answers 3


I have created a CSL citation style for the convenience of users. It can be used in Zotero, Papers, Mendeley, and Qiqqa.

It's an author-date style presenting the bibliography as a marked-down bullet list. If the citation contains a DOI, this is used to construct a dx.doi.org link. If there's no DOI, any URL associated with the citation is used. If no URL is found, the item is presented without a link.

The style is demonstrated below, and can be downloaded here (at the top-right of the code display, right-click the <> symbol and save as...).

To use the style from Zotero, you must first install it. Then you just select the items you want to include in the reference list, then right-click and choose 'Create bibliography from selected items'. Next choose the 'Biology.SE' from the list, ensure 'export to clipboard' is chosen, and press OK. Now you can paste the reference list at the end of your post.

Example references

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ nice! can't believe I've only just read this. I use Mendeley, and this is a great idea to encourage proper citations in answers. Going to go try it out $\endgroup$
    – Luke
    Commented Jul 19, 2012 at 10:07
  • $\begingroup$ :) I haven't tried it with Mendeley, so please let me know if anything needs tweaking... $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 19, 2012 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ The download link seems to be dead now. $\endgroup$ Commented May 30, 2013 at 21:54
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @fileunderwater sorry about that - have put it on Github and updated the link. $\endgroup$ Commented May 30, 2013 at 22:00

How do I use the DOI project to prevent future dead links?

The Digital Object Identifier System (DOI) is a method of linking to digital material (in our case primarily scientific literature). DOI links are advantageous as if the content linked to is deleted at one host in the future, the DOI will automatically resolve to another host without having to change the link.

The DOI number for an article is often included on the abstract page. This should be then appended to the end of the link http://dx.doi.org/.


The article "The tomato genome sequence provides insights into fleshy fruit evolution" from Nature 485, 635–641 (31 May 2012) has a DOI of 10.1038/nature11119 - as given on its abstract page.

The link that should be included in your question/answer should therefore be to:


Which is resolved as such.


This system should be used wherever possible. Users are encouraged to suggest edits to change static links for their appropriate DOI style links.

  • $\begingroup$ For those without a subscription would the pubmed ID be an appropriate alternative or should we always resort to the DOI style? $\endgroup$
    – bobthejoe
    Commented May 31, 2012 at 22:51
  • $\begingroup$ The best that you can do is enough in my opinion so pubmed ID ok in that case if do not have a subscription. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 7, 2012 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ You don't need a subscription to see the doi for any journal article. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 8, 2012 at 23:01
  • $\begingroup$ It's worth mentioning that of course, dx.doi.org is as likely to disappear as any publisher's site. The strength of the doi system is that anyone can host a doi server and to make the switch we could just search and replace all dx.doi.org addresses with the address of the new server. Pubmed etc. don't have that open standard. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 9, 2012 at 11:09
  • $\begingroup$ I would have thought that if the worst came to the worst the Dev team would be happy to replace every instance of dx.doi.org/ with a new DOI server xD $\endgroup$
    – Rory M
    Commented Jun 9, 2012 at 13:02
  • $\begingroup$ Exactly, so it gives us a future-proof system. It would be useful to have some automation for references. I will have a go at a Zotero style. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 9, 2012 at 20:26
  • $\begingroup$ @RichardSmith Zotero looks great, I think I'll have to give that a try! $\endgroup$
    – Rory M
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 12:07
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, now if only DOIs weren’t also prone to disappearing (happened to me already) … $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 9:32
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting @KonradRudolph, I've not seen that before. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 16, 2012 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Richard Here’s an example. Hard to judge whose fault this is but it seems to be a relatively common problem. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 1, 2012 at 9:16

How can I make sure that my use of references is valuable to the community?

When available, provide a link to a PDF that is freely available without subscription.

For many popular articles, a freely available PDF version of an article can be located, e.g. by:

  • Searching google for the article title in quotes + filetype:pdf
  • Searching google scholar, and when the article you want shows up, click the 'all 3 versions' and see if one is in pdf format

Add the url to the pdf alongside the properly formatted citation, like this; the citation itself links to the doi, followed by a link to a free pdf.

 - [ **Carmell MA, Girard A, Kant HJG van de, Bourc’his D, Bestor TH, Rooij 
DG de, Hannon GJ**. 2007. MIWI2 Is Essential for Spermatogenesis and Repression 
of Transposons in the Mouse Male Germline. Developmental Cell 12: 503–514.]
(http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.devcel.2007.03.001)[[free PDF](http://exmaplepdflink.pdf)]

Which looks like this:

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ While certainly convenient, I feel that pdfs are dynamic and may drift. I'm personally much more comfortable linking a pmid or the doi. $\endgroup$
    – bobthejoe
    Commented Jun 28, 2012 at 9:08
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @bonthejoe The pmid or doi can also be added to the reference. I will adjust the answer. I agree that doi is the 'standard', and i use it in my own database because it reduces error in automated queried (within my database that doesn't have fuzzy matching) but for many without institutional access this is more useful. And having author, year, title, and journal is just as capable of uniquely identifying an article as a doi. $\endgroup$
    – Abe
    Commented Jun 28, 2012 at 15:25

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .