A bibliographic citation index is a type of database (or citation database), which allows users to know the cited references of a document, and identify which subsequent documents cite which previous documents. Thus, through citations, an intellectual link is created between research papers.

Today, many citation indexes provide links to the publishers’ website to help users find the full texts. Bibliographic databases such as Web of Science and Scopus not only provide indexing and summary services, but also offer advanced results analysis features, and can help users identify high-impact research.

Bibliographic databases search bibliographic information, i.e. words describing the publication (e.g. title, authors, abstract, keywords). All databases also have a more or less detailed system for manually adding thematic terms that describe the content. For example, an article dealing with salmon may have the thematic terms “fish”, “pisces”, “vertebrata” and “animal” added to the bibliographic information. This means that you will find this article when you search for “animal” even if it is not mentioned anywhere in the title or abstract.

Pretty much everything found in scientific bibliographic databases has undergone quality control, which means you won’t have to worry about non-serious publishers. Another advantage of bibliographic databases is that you have many options to adjust your search and have full control over it. In addition, there are also many options to use filters that allow you to rank the most relevant posts from your list of search results.

Main advantages of bibliographic databases

Thematic terms added manually. You will find relevant publications regardless of the terms chosen by the author.

Rigorous quality control. You don’t have to worry about non-serious editors.

Search customization. Many options to adjust your search and have full control over it

Filtering results. Many options for ranking the most relevant posts from your list of search results.

Search history. You can go back and check your previous results within the same session. If you open an account, you can save searches and create search alerts.

Online General Interest Book Databases

Some databases are intended primarily for general, non-academic use, and are constructed less formally.

Internet Book Database

The Internet Book Database (IBookDB) is an online database with information about books and authors with an added social network component. It was started as an effort to be the equivalent of IMDb for books. It currently contains information on more than 94,000 books (more than 316,000 ISBNs), 28,000 authors and 2,200 series, making it one of the largest online databases of information on authors and books. Its unique features include searching for information about the historical publication of books using the Other Versions feature on each page of the book. It also offers price comparisons.

Registered users can catalog and manage their book collections online, find users with books, authors or similar series and discuss books in the forums. They can also rate, review and tag books, authors and series. Other features offered include displaying random books from users’ catalogs on their websites, blogs, or on their social media pages, and searching the websites of various bookstores. IBookDB also holds a monthly giveaway in which it gives away about 10 books each month to users of the site, most of which are signed by the authors. Users can apply for publisher status, which currently allows them to enter and correct information related to the series.

IBookDB also offers services to authors, such as hosting their official forums for free, getting their books listed, updating their bio, and other book advertising services, providing a platform for authors and readers to connect. Currently, IBookDB hosts the official forums of several authors, such as Paul Levine, Susan McBride, Becky Garrison, Kristina O’Donnelly and Danielle Girard.

Database of fiction books on the Internet

The Internet Book Database of Fiction (IBDoF) is an online database of books, primarily fiction. The site also hosts a message board geared specifically to book discussion. This database currently contains information on more than 3,5800 books and 4,730 authors, and the community consists of some 1,330 active members who have published 1,3500 messages on more than 6,400 topics.

The ISFDB database indexes authors, novels, short stories, publishers, awards and journals. In addition, it supports pseudonyms of authors, series, awards and covers, as well as credits of interior illustrations that are combined into integrated bibliographies of authors, artists and publishers. An ongoing effort is the verification of the contents of publications and secondary bibliographic sources with respect to the database to improve the accuracy of the data and achieve 100% coverage of speculative fiction. Current statistics from the database are available online.

Databases of books on social networks

There are several databases primarily or partially intended for social networks. They encourage users to create their own catalogs, rate books on the site, and use this information to identify others with similar interests. LibraryThing is a large and well-known example. It is a prominent social cataloging web application for storing and sharing personal library catalogs and book lists.


LibraryThing was developed by Tim Spalding and began operating on August 29, 2005. By the time it was one year old, in August 2006, LibraryThing had attracted more than 73,000 registered users who had catalogued 5.1 million individual books, representing almost 1.2 million unique works (in March 2008 they reached more than 360,000 users and 24 million books).

The LibraryThing website displays Google AdSense advertising on the works and authors pages for users who are not logged in, and receives referral fees from online bookstores that supply book cover images. Individual users can register for free and register up to 200 books. Beyond that limit and/or for commercial or group use, a subscription fee or a one-time lifetime fee is charged. Online bookstore AbeBooks bought a 40% stake in LibraryThing in May 2006, for an undisclosed sum.

Users (known informally as thingamabrarians, a term coined by contributor RJO) can catalog personal collections, maintain reading lists, and meet other users who have the same books. Although it is possible to keep a library’s catalog private, most people choose to make their catalogs public, allowing them to find other people with similar tastes. Thingamabrarians users can browse the entire database by searching for user-generated titles, authors, or tags when they enter books into their libraries.

Book Retailer Databases

Book retailer databases are primarily geared towards the sale of books and other products.


AbeBooks (formerly Advanced Book Exchange) is an online book marketplace. Most of the books that appear are second-hand, many are rare or out of print, and an increasing number are new books. The company is headquartered in Victoria (Canada) and has offices in Düsseldorf (Germany) and the United States. It was established in 1995 and launched its websites in 1996.

Currently, they have more than 100 million books on sale from 13,500 booksellers in 57 countries. Sellers pay a monthly subscription to publish their books on the site, which ranges from $25 to $300, depending on the number of books they publish. In addition, sellers pay a percentage for each book sold through the websites. AbeBooks offers six regional websites: for North America, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Spain (Iberlibro.com).

AbeBooks users can search the listings of many independent bookstores, allowing small independent businesses to compete with large bookstores. Some of the partner bookstores offer their books only online, while others also maintain a normal showcase.


Amazon.com, Inc. is an American e-commerce company headquartered in Seattle, Washington. Amazon was one of the first major companies to sell products online, and was one of the iconic “stocks to invest in” of the dot-com bubble of the late ’90s. After the collapse, the public was skeptical about Amazon’s business model, and yet it made annual profits in 2003.

Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com, Inc. in 1994, and launched it online in 1995. Amazon.com started as an online bookstore, but soon diversified with product lines of VHS, DVD, music CD, MP3 format, computer software, video games, electronics, clothing, furniture, food, toys, etc. Amazon has established independent websites in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, China, and Japan. It also offers global shipping to certain countries for some of its products.

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble, Inc. is the largest specialty book retailer in the United States, operating primarily through its Barnes & Noble bookstore chain, based at the lower end of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. The company manages smaller bookstore chains, such as Bookstop, Bookstar and B. Dalton Booksellers, which are located in open-air shopping malls. The company is known for its large luxury stores, many of which feature a coffee shop serving Starbucks Coffee, and for its competitive discounts on best-selling books. Most stores also sell magazines, newspapers, DVDs, graphic novels, gifts, games, and music. Video games and related items were sold at GameStop outlets until October 2004, when the division became an independent company.

As of February 3, 2007, the company had 793 stores in 50 U.S. states. and the District of Columbia.


Play.com is a Jersey-based online retailer of DVDs, CDs, books, gadgets, DRM-free mp3 downloads and other electronics. Founded in 1998, Play.com was one of the UK’s first online retailers. It is the UK’s second-largest online retailer, according to traffic monitor Hitwise, and is in the top 50 globally. Play.com took second place on the NOVEMBER 2006 UK Hot Shops List, produced by IMRG and Hitwise. In January 2008, Play.com had 7,000,000 registered customers, a catalog of 5,000,000 products and employed about 500 workers.

As Play ships its products from Jersey and not from the UK, it is exempt from charging VAT on items whose cost is equal to or less than £18.

Compilations of other bibliographic databases

Also known as book metasearch engines, they combine the results of catalogs from various libraries and other sources.


ISBNdb.com is a website that attempts to create a free database of books by consulting various libraries around the world for data on them. The results are indexed by a series of parameters (authors, editors, topics, similarity, etc.) and presented on the website in an organized format. Original MARC records can also be downloaded. As of May 2006, the site had data on more than 2 million unique ISBNs and corresponding books, which can be searched by title, ISBN, author, subject and other criteria. Between 2000 and 5000 records are added every day.

The website ISBNdb.com also offers book price comparisons to learn about availability and prices in many online stores, including both general distributors such as Amazon and large used book distributors (AbeBooks, Alibris, etc.). ISBNdb.com displays pricing information as the user browses the site.

As of July 2005, ISBNdb.com offers an XML-based remote access API that allows access to all the same data displayed on the website itself. ISBNdb.com began in 2001 as a hobby project of Andrew Maltsev. It is now a project of his company, Ejelta LLC.

Bibliography and Digital Library Project (DBLP)

DBLP (Digital Bibliography & Library Project) is a computer bibliography website hosted at the University of Trier in Germany. It was originally a bibliography site on databases and logic programming, and has been around since at least the 1980s. In March 2008, DBLP listed more than one million articles on computer science. Journals tracked on this site include VLDB, a journal for very large databases, IEEE Transactions, and ACM Transactions. Conference proceedings are also recorded. The site is reflected on five Internet sites.

For his work in maintaining DBLP, Michael Ley received an award from the Association for Computing Machinery and the VLDB Endowment Special Recognition Award in 1997.

DBLP originally stood for “DataBase systems and Logic Programming”, but is now considered to stand for “Digital Bibliography & Library Project”.

Databases of journal and newspaper articles

ProQuest LLC

ProQuest LLC is an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company specializing in educational microfilm and electronic publishing.

Eugene Power founded the company as University Microfilms in 1938, preserving works from the British Museum on microfilm. He also realized that there was a niche market in the publication of dissertations. Students were often forced to publish their own works to finish their phD. Dissertations could be published more cheaply in the form of microfilm than as a book. As this market grew, the company expanded into filming newspapers and periodicals. ProQuest continues to publish so many dissertations that its collection of digital dissertations has been declared an official repository of the Library of Congress of the United States.

Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature

The Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature is a reference guide to articles recently published in periodicals and academic journals, organized by topic. It has been published regularly since 1901 by the H. W. Wilson Company, and is a staple of reference academic libraries throughout the United States. It helps to find a magazine article of something that has been written in the past. Readers are then directed to the magazine, so that those interested can read the article.

ISI Web of Knowledge

ISI Web of Knowledge is an online academic database provided by Thomson Scientific. It provides access to many databases and other resources: Web of Science (which includes the Science Citation Index (SCI), the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), the Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI), the Chemicus Index and the Current Chemical Reactions, covering some 8,700 leading journals in science, technology, social sciences, arts and humanities), ISI Proceedings, Current Contents Connect, Medline, ISI Essential Science Indicators, Journal Citation Reports (two editions: Science and Social Sciences), in-cites, Science Watch, ISI HighlyCited. com, Index to Organism Names and BiologyBrowser.

The use of ISI Web of Knowledge is authorized to institutions such as universities and research departments of large companies.

Rock’s Backpages

Rock’s Backpages is an online library of popular music journalism, drawn from independent contributions to the music and general press from the 1950s to the present day.

It was founded in 2000 by British music journalist Barney Hoskyns. As of October 2006, its database contained more than 10,000 articles (interviews, reports, reviews, etc.), covering a wide range of popular music (including blues and soul) since the 50s.

Rock’s Backpages is a subscription site, aimed at both individual consumers and institutional subscribers, such as academic institutions and media organizations.

Sources of the database articles include magazines such as Creem, Rolling Stone, New Musical Express, Melody Maker, Crawdaddy! and Mojo magazine. The database contains contributions from more than 300 journalists, mainly from the United States and the United Kingdom, such as Dave Marsh, Charles Shaar Murray, Nick Tosches, Mick Farren, Al Aronowitz and Ian MacDonald.

All material in the database is submitted with the full agreement and permission of the copyright holders – independent writers and journalists – or their estates.

Specific editorial

ScienceDirect is one of the largest online collections of published scientific research in the world. Produced by Elsevier, it contains more than 8.5 million articles from more than 2,000 journals, including titles such as The Lancet, Cell and Tetrahedron, as well as 40 reference works and numerous series of books and manuals. In 2007, 4,000 e-books will be added to ScienceDirect.

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

The Directory of Open Access Journals, or DOAJ, lists open access journals, scientific and academic journals that meet high quality standards through the exercise of peer review or editorial quality control and that are free to all from the moment of publication, based on the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) definition of open access. Since open access is a global phenomenon, DOAJ includes publications from around the world in many languages. It is possible to browse the journals and search for articles within many of them through a web interface.

In June 2007 there were 2,725 journals in the database, 822 of which were searchable by article. The goal of DOAJ is to “increase the visibility and ease of use of open access scientific and academic journals, thereby promoting their greater use and impact” DOAJ is managed and funded in part by the libraries of Lund University. DOAJ has received or receives funding from the Open Society Institute, the Swedish National Library, SPARC, SPARC Europe and Axiell. In addition, there is an affiliate program for individuals and institutions in order to support the continued operation and development of the project.

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Bibliographic References

Badke, William B. Research Strategies: Finding Your Way Through the Information Fog. New York: IUniverse, Inc. 2004. ISBN 978-0595313716

Forrester, William H., and Jane L. Rowlands. The Online Searcher’s Companion. London: Library Association, 2000. ISBN 978-1856042932

OCLC. OCLC FirstSearch Databases. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC, 2000.

Olson, Hope A., John J. Boll, and Rao Aluri. Subject Analysis in Online Catalogs. Englewood, Colo: Libraries Unlimited, 2001. ISBN 978-1563088001

Palmer, Roger C. Online Reference and Information Retrieval. Library science text series. Littleton, Colo: Libraries Unlimited, 1987. ISBN 978-0872875364

You might also be interested in: Bibliographic Universe and its management in the online world

Index of Bibliographic Citations or Citation Database of Citations

Index of Bibliographic Citations or Citation Database. Source: Unsplash. Credits: Bruce Mars

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