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I wonder whether there exists any well-established database schema(s) to store references.

For example, the Perl package Bib2ML (aka. Bib2HTML) contains a bib2sql tool that generates a SQL database from a BibTeX database, with the following schema:

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If there is no well-established schema, I am still interested to know about alternatives. One can assume the data it contains can be extracted from the paper or the BibTeX (i.e. no need to be able to store information coming from other sources, and the focus is on the reference, not the paper's content).

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    What do you want to do? Why is a plain .bib file not enough? – Davidmh Oct 22 '15 at 6:31
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    @Davidmh A SQL database to make it easier to query a set of references. – Franck Dernoncourt Oct 22 '15 at 6:31
  • I meant what do you want to do with that database, as opposed to plain bib? – Davidmh Oct 22 '15 at 6:32
  • @Davidmh query it – Franck Dernoncourt Oct 22 '15 at 6:33
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If you would consider an approach of storing bibliographic information in XML format, either directly (as XML files), or indirectly (via serialization or XML-to-RelationalDB conversion), you might find the following resources of interest (some of the resources are general and/or database-focused):

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I expect most reference management software uses some sort of database system to store the local data in an easily accessible way.

In particular I know that Mendeley stores the local database using SQlite, although I doubt there is any common standard across different software.

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