I think this is a headache for most latex users during collaborations: managing bib references. The are several problems. Suppose:

(A) assume that Aut1 and Aut2 collaborate on a paper;

(B) both authors their bib database, say 1-ref.bib and 2-ref.bib;

(C) a subset of references is already included in both 1-ref.bib and 2-ref.bib. The entries in the subset have different keys and are not precisely equally formatted in the two *.bib files;

(D) there are also new references to be added for the current project.

One possibility is to manage the paper writing through an SVN system like git. Then, the authors can modify common bib files, including the addition of new references (D), but then merging the modifications requires a lot of work if the authors always work on a shared bib file.

After experimenting with different strategies, currently, I do (hoping that collaborators are happy with that) the following:

  1. each author brings in its bib file
  2. each author can only modify its bib file
  3. each author uses bib records from all bib files

This strategy is simple. It works even when collaborators do not use git-like tools. However, it doesn't solve the issue (D), which in my opinion, is the biggest.

Suppose that "Paper 1" is cited by both authors from their bib database. Then, "Paper 1" will appear in the references twice and probably with different formatting.

What I do, currently, is to monitor the bbl file regularly, and if I spot a duplicated entry, I decide which one to retain. Then, I go on the tex source, and I replace all the wrong \cite{} commands with the appropriate one. Although this works, I'm not too fond of it because it is not automatic.

What's your strategy? Hopefully, this can gather several ideas to put together an efficient workflow.

1 Answer 1


The way I see it, you should have some kind of Zotero (or Mendeley, or any other tool) library for this paper, or for every of your collaboration with the same person or as you want.

Then extract from the library the bib. This way you have the same format for everybody (the one created by Zotero).

This means that:

A Authors need to connect to the library and add references to it. Quite easy to be honest, the same way you add bibtex, you can add endref note to any citation tool (Zotero...) and have connectors for firefox/chrome and so on.

B Authors now have only one common shared library, possibly with their proper collection if needed.

C There is no duplication, and if there is it will be notify by the library.

D Adding a reference on the other side can be annoying a bit (like 3 steps instead of 1 without cheking duplication), but honnestly its kinda nothing: 1) Add to Zotero, 2)Extract that reference, 3) Put the extracted reference into the bib of the latex project.

Additional point, you can add .bib into Zotero directly so its kinda straighforward to start the library.

  • but this forces all coauthors to adpat to my zotero (or whatever) and puts into the workflow an additional tools that perhaps other coauthors don't like. I'd look for a solution that uses just one (or more) bib files Commented Jul 22, 2021 at 13:14
  • true, but this being totally external to biblatex (at least, from their documentation) you will have to use an external script yourself, or make them use it (or the tool like Zotero). Unless some editor idk of have this built-in
    – Nitsugua
    Commented Jul 22, 2021 at 13:43

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