Converting RIS to BibTeX


Digital libraries increasingly provide an option to export bibliographic data. Unfortunately, many, like IEEE Xplore, SpringerLink, and Scopus don't support the BibTeX format I use for storing my bibliographies. (To its credit the ACM Portal offers a BibTeX export option. On the other hand, Elsevier's ScienceDirect and JSTOR don't offer any export facility.)

I've found that most sites support the RIS file format. This is used by three separate products, suspiciously all developed and marketed by Thomson ResearchSoft: EndNote, ProCite, and Reference Manager. To convert the RIS file format into BibTeX I wrote a small filter in Perl. I'm making it available here as open software under the BSD license.

To download RIS citations under Windows, I've configured by web browser to lauch a small batch file that invokes the filter and copies the result to the clipboard, using the outwit winclip program.

perl /usr/share/perl/ %1 | winclip -c
After that the citation is in my clipboard, ready for pasting in my bibliography collection through my editor.

Recently I discovered another solution that works just as well. Chris Putnam's Bibutils collection provides programs that can convert (among other things) from RIS to XML and from XML to BibTeX. The XML format uses the Library of Congress Metadata Object Description Schema" (MODS). The incantation in this case would be something like

ris2xml <%1 | xml2bib | winclip -c

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Last modified: Wednesday, November 8, 2006 10:01 am

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