I have a list of citation keys (entry names in bib file) but I don't have the name of article. How can I find the article link?

For example, according to bib file of this article, the citation key is JagadeeshChandraBose2010. Suppose I only have JagadeeshChandraBose2010 and I need to find the link to article. How can I do it?

I tried Google and all search engines listed here, but I didn't find a solution.

  • 1
    Why would you have only the citation keys? It's quite unusual, unless somebody forgot to share the bibfile and to compile the source
    – laika
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 15:07
  • exactly, somebody shared some resources and he is not availble now. In mean while I was thinking maybe there is a standard that he followed so I can search for it without asking him...
    – Sadegh
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 15:18

3 Answers 3


Bibtex citation keys are in no-way unique, nor do they have to be meaningful. The sole purpose of the key is to use it as a reference link when citing the work. In latex you would do something like \cite{foobar} where foobar is a perfectly valid key. To add to the confusion, there is no unique convention on naming bibtex entries, and whether there should be one is up for discussion. Some people name their own keys, others let their citation manager do the job for them. I use Mendeley which uses a FirstAuthorSurname_Year schematic. If I have more than one paper by that same author published in that same year, Menedeley appends lower-caps letters after the main key. Zotero and Google seem to do something similar.

What this means is that reverse searching an article from the bibtex key you have in your .bib file is a hard task, which might even be impossible if the keys used follow a random/meaningless scheme. If however, the key contains some data on the publication - Author, year, publication type, etc. - you can try entering those details in your favourite publication search engine in the hope of finding the paper.

  • Hope some day everybody start to follow the same scheme!
    – Sadegh
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 10:01
  • 3
    @Woeitg Why would everyone do that when the identifier is not supposed to have any meaning outside the specific bibtex file anyway? Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 12:12
  • This is the reason I try to add a source URL/DOI for every paper I cite to my .bib files.
    – JAB
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 13:26
  • 2
    Hope some day everybody start to follow the same schemexkcd.com/927
    – JeffE
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 13:57
  • @TobiasKildetoft In case you want to share or expand your work or cooperate with someone else, it will make sense.
    – Sadegh
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 14:22

The citation key in bibtex can be anything you want. What you call JagadeeshChandraBose2010, I can call 1234567 or abcdefg, as long as I call it the same thing in the tex file as in the bib file.

Since that key can be any string you want, there is obviously no way to map between that arbitrary string and the article.

Now, if the string follows a particular format - like JagadeeshChandraBose2010, which seems to be a name or names, followed by a year - then you can search for that article using that information. For example: Google Scholar search finds two papers authored by Jagadeesh Chandra Bose in 2010.

  • Thanks. I supposed everybody should follow the exact citation key used in bib file of publication link.
    – Sadegh
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 9:32
  • Ach beat me to it!
    – JoErNanO
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 9:56
  • 2
    @Woeitg I've seen publishers serving up keys with spaces in them and other daft things. But as publishers often give a key that looks like a primary database key from their internal systems, most people will change it (or their software will) to something more helpful.
    – Chris H
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 15:59
  • 4
    Additionally, global identification is what DOIs are for, but BibTeX identifiers are meant for internal use only. Totally different beasts.
    – Boldewyn
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 16:26

For completeness, if the bibtex item originated from the inspire database (http://inspirehep.net), you could search

find texkey JagadeeshChandraBose2010

in the inspire database and find the article. Alas, in this case, it does not.

  • Can you add the link to inspire database?
    – Sadegh
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 14:33
  • Sure, it was already linked, now it's even clearer
    – innisfree
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 14:36

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