For my PhD thesis I'm using a BibTex database that I have used and extended over the years. However, over time I 'abused' it by deleting fields instead of creating copies and keep the main database with original entries.

I'm using JabRef but as far as I know this does not have an option or plug-in to mass "search and merge" my entries with 'correct' entries from other sources, whilst keeping keys intact.

Does anyone know if such a tool or service exists?

(since I'm in the field of computer science, a DBLP-specific service would already help me out big time)

  • 1
    Can't answer the question --- are there even "correct"/canonical sources? ---, but, for the future, you should work the other way: keep the main .bib pristine and use tools like bibtool or biber to extract the relevant bibliography entries when the article/etc. is (near to being) done.
    – jon
    Apr 30, 2014 at 18:01
  • 1
    @jon Well, I read a lot of discussions stating that almost all sources have issues, so I'm not looking for the "correct" source. I just know they are better than what I currently have. And yes, you're right, I should work that way. Let's call that experience :)
    – JoosBuijs
    Apr 30, 2014 at 18:05
  • 1
    Indeed, there's some old saying about hindsight...
    – jon
    Apr 30, 2014 at 18:07

2 Answers 2


I can think of two ways to achieve this...


Jabref should already flag entries with missing fields (i.e. those missing essential bibtex fields for the corresponding reference type). You could use JabRef's Google Scholar plugin to re-find each of the affected entries, but this is likely to be slow and error prone as GS bibtex entries are anything but accurate.


Download the bibliographic reference manager, Mendeley. Import the incomplete bib file (File > Import > BibTeX) and allow Mendeley to populate missing fields. Entries which are unresolvable (at least in the first instance) will be tagged "Needs Review". For these you will need to manually check the entry type (journal, book, etc.) and prompt Mendeley by populating as many missing fields as you can. You can export the repaired bib file (File > Export) or maintain a contemporaneously synced bib file in a location of your choice (Tools > Options).


It turned out that writing a quick program to do this was the most viable solution left. Recently I got around to place it on GitHub for everyone to use and contribute. It is a very simple and ugly implementation but it did the trick for the 150+ BibTeX entries for my Ph.D. thesis.

In case you need something like I did, have a look at https://github.com/joosbuijs/bibcleaner I hope that the people that use it also contribute to it such that we can make it better.

Hope this helps!

You must log in to answer this question.

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