Any way to manage bibliographic references via .bib files?

I have been searching for a note management tool that is open-source, text-based, and fully local, and Logseq seemed to fit the bill perfectly until I tried to use bibliographic references. As far as I can tell, there is no way to manage bibliographic references except via Zotero. Is this truly the case, and if so, are there any plans to enable to use of raw .bib files directly? (I checked the roadmap and didn’t see anything, but thought I’d ask nevertheless.)

It looks like I could use a plugin with Zotero to keep from having to create an account and enable syncing, thereby keeping everything local, but that feels a bit like a house of cards. Every other option I have tried – org-mode, Zettlr, Obsidian, at least a couple of others whose names do not jump to mind – have worked with raw .bib files (though Obsidian is, of course, not open source).


this feature request would cover this - please vote for it :wink: Link to external pdfs in local Zotero folder and Better BibTex support I believe the academic use case for Logseq is auite diferent from the task management/workflow use case. Of course they can be combined but academic users need to make sure academic functionality development keeps up with needs and opportunities. See this instructive thread:

choice quote from Arthur Perret:

I don’t think a majority of people use these as tools for thought, with interrelation at their core. Which is why you see this criticism of graph views pop up: without links, it’s a useless feature indeed; and with few people needing it to improve, it stagnates.

In that spirit: Let’s avoid stagnation by interlinking elevant Feature Requests in this forum and point to relevant implementations

Maybe I am misreading the feature request, but it doesn’t seem like it would address my issue at all (though it does uncover a new issue for me – I was not aware that Logseq does not support relative file links, though to be honest I haven’t tested that with most of the competitors either). In fact, it seems just the opposite, as it specifically requests deeper Zotero integration. I want to use one or more plain old .bib files directly.

I’m not sure what you’re getting at with this comment or what you perceive my use-case to be, so I will explain a bit. I sit in a bit of a gap between academia and the corporate world and I use citations extensively on both sides of that gap, with .bib files I have been maintaining for 20+ years. My experience with reference managers has been universally negative, hence my disinterest in Zotero. I have zero interest in using Logseq for task management; maybe someday, but right now that functionality is far too immature to be even remotely tempting to me.

To clarify: My impression is that atm, a lot of the very visible debates, activities and showcases around Logseq focus on the task management side of things - through the feature request that ranks second in terms of votes is this: Longform writing in Logseq

Like you, I want Logseq to have better citation support - but I believe Better Bibtex support to be an achievable milestone on that path given that its is well implemented in open source markdown editor and zettelkasten system zettlr: [Feature] open pdf file by clicking on citation · Issue #2898 · Zettlr/Zettlr · GitHub

Unlike literally any other “major” comprehensive literature manager, zotero is completely open source and open standard compliant. I recommend you give it a try, but even if you are not interested, implementing a zettlr like solution in Logseq is one step towards bib file support.

Regarding your us case: I meant academic in the sense of wanting to write texts that meet “academic/scholarly standards” and therefore need a robust, local citation system - regardless if you are writing them for university, research or business contexts. Thanks for explaining, maybe focusing more on function (citation management, linking local literature data in bib format than on the label “academic” can help make the broader apeal of this request more clear.

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I created a bounty to add betterbibtex support via a plugin. It seems to me that most people will probably be fine with Zotero but those of us who want something else can still be supported via a plugin. One already exists for obsidian so maybe the code can be imported to work with Logseq?

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citeproc.js is a citation manager-agnostic solution that is already well implementd in academic markdown tool zettlr: Link to external pdfs in local Zotero folder and Better BibTex support - #4 by menelic

I broke down and gave it a try, but quickly ran into the issue of having to have syncing enabled. The zotero-mdnotes plugin is not compatible with the latest version of Zotero and looks like it might not be maintained anymore. The logseq-zotero plugin still requires a Zotero account and similarly looks like it might no longer be maintained. See, house of cards. Some of my .bib files contain confidential information, so syncing to third-party servers is an absolute no-go for me. And that means so is Logseq, at least for now.

I’m very happy with how citations work in Zettlr, though I didn’t know it used citeproc.js under the hood. If this were implemented in Logseq I would not only be able to use it, but I would probably become an immediate convert – aside from citations, it seems to meet all of my other requirements and do so very well.

thanks for trying ! I fully understand your house of cards issue, i just want to point out that in this case, this is a logseq, not a zotero problem, as logseq requires the sync. Zettlr demonstrates that a purely local access to a zotero database is possible via citeproc and BetterBibtex.

The other issue you raise has been solved: Export of zotero notes as MD files now works natively, so the plugin is no longer required for this functionality. This also means the compatibility is more immediate and stable (one house of cards issue less). This article describes teh functonaoity when it was in beta, its now stable and part of current zotero: Available for beta testing: Markdown export of notes - Zotero Forums and note templates [Zotero Documentation]

Maybe some of us can join @Luhmann s bounty, here is hoping we can convince @Aryan the author of many great plugins to look at this next. @Ramses mentioned that the logseq team is looking into implementing some key academic use cases, this one would be a key functionality - but only once their sync service is implemented. To me, funding a plugin now seems the most likely strategy to get this implemented - it could become part of core later once its clear how important it is to academic users

Thanks for the pointer, I was simply going to the plugins pointed to by the Logseq docs. Since I thought Logseq was a definite no-go for me, I didn’t bother mentioning that I’m not entirely happy with the .bib files Zotero exports (which stems from its assumption of sentence-cased titles on import while I have 20+ years worth of .bib files that are all title-cased). I didn’t try much tweaking since I was more concerned about first proving it would work with Logseq, but maybe now I will poke around a bit more.

In any case, those are Zotero/BetterBibtex problems, not Logseq ones.

A temporal alternative is to build a cli interface between the .bib file and the logseq markdown files. Both are very human friendly and in the case of .bib must scripting languages have good libraries to manipulate them. Implementing an small search interface is not that difficult either.


$ create_md_from_bib --hint="author, year"