I have a huge .bib file that contains all my references. Very few of them currently have a doi field. Given access to an online database that includes many of the same references, is capable of generating .bib entries, and includes dois, is there any more or less automatic way of using the database to add dois to as many of the references in the .bib file as possible? Note that the citation keys in my .bib file and those generated by the database are not identical, so matching would have to be done by e.g. title and author.

Answers using e.g. Jabref or Zotero are fine. It feels like one of those tools ought to be able to do this. I just don't know how.

1 Answer 1


In JabRef, you can use the Lookup functionality located in the "Lookup" menu:

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Please mark all entires you want to lookup the DOI for. For sure, you can also mark all entries.

  • Thanks! That worked, partially. It turns out that the version of JabRef in the ubuntu repositories is totally out of date, so I didn't have that tool at all at first. Now I have run it on my whole references list. It found DOIs for about half the references. Some of the ones it didn't find are predictable, but there are many that are recently published and definitely do have DOIs. In many cases, the tool found DOIs for some papers in a journal but not others in the same journal. Doesn't seem to be any pattern to it. So I'm still looking for further suggestions.
    – Quiddity
    Commented Jun 24, 2023 at 12:02
  • Regarding ubuntu's version being out of date: There are currently no volunteers working on getting that fixed. Therefore, the JabRef team decided to provide both deb and snap packages for themselves. -- Regrading the DOI, JabRef uses crossref.org. Could you try out the articles where no DOI was found manually? Maybe, a) there needs to be more cross-checks inside JabRef or b) it's "just" the rate limit of crossref. -- This will more turn out to a discussion. Can you follow up at discourse.jabref.org?
    – koppor
    Commented Jun 25, 2023 at 13:37
  • Yes, I posted a followup there. I did try some of the articles at CrossRef and they are there. It seems like the problem is that JabRef sometimes has a problem choosing the right CrossRef entry from the bibliographic data and so returns no result. It's a bit puzzling, since in some of the cases there is clearly only one candidate in CrossRef, but I don't really understand how search works under the hood and I'm sure it's more difficult than I would think to get it working perfectly. I'm happy enough with what I've got I guess!
    – Quiddity
    Commented Jun 27, 2023 at 8:19

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