Introducing Mr. DLib, a Machine-readable Digital Library
Introducing Mr. DLib, a Machine-readable Digital Library
UC Berkeley / OvGU
Mr. DLib / Berkeley
School of Information
OvGU / FIN / DKE
Dpt. of Statistics
In this demonstration-paper we present Mr. DLib, a machine-
readable digital library. Mr. DLib provides access to several
millions of articles in full-text and their metadata in XML and
JSON format via a RESTful Web Service. In addition,
Mr. DLib provides related documents for given academic
articles. The service is intended to serve researchers who need
bibliographic data and full-text of scholarly literature for their
analyses (e.g. impact and trend analysis); providers of academic
services who need additional information to enhance their own
services (e.g. literature recommendations); and providers who
want to build their own services based on data from Mr. DLib.
Categories and Subject Descriptors
H.3.5 [Online Information Services]: Information Storage and
Retrieval – Web-based Services.
Digital library, machine-readable, bibliographic data, impact
analysis, citation analysis, trend analysis, api, web service, rest
Researchers who need bulk access to citation data or the full
text of academic articles currently have two options. Either they
write parsers for digital libraries, such as ACM Digital Library,
to collect the required data from the libraries’ websites or they
use data from some of the few academic services offering their
data via an API (for instance, the social bookmarking service
Bibsonomy offers an API to access their data in XML  and so
does Arxiv.org and DBLP). However, existing services have
some shortcomings. They either have very little data, offer it
only in one format, maintain their API and documentation with
low priority (because their focus lies on the web-interface),
allow free access only to a limited set of data, or they have no
full-text of articles in their database which is important for
In this paper, we introduce Mr. DLib, a Machine-readable
Digital Library. Mr. DLib’s purpose is to provide machine-
readable access, in XML and JSON format via an API, to full-
text of academic articles and metadata including impact metrics
and information about relatedness of documents. Mr. DLib is
not intended to serve a digital library’s “end-user” – a
researcher looking for a single academic paper or information
about it. Instead, Mr. DLib is intended to serve the following
1) Researchers requiring bibliographic data and full-text of
scholarly literature for their analyses in bulk. For instance,
Mr. DLib provides citation graphs and citation counts for
scientific articles to perform impact and trend analysis and with
* Work of this author was supported in part by the National Science Foundation
Award 0835773 (Bibliographic Knowledge Network)
full-text of academic articles, document similarities or
plagiarism detection could be performed by the users.
2) Providers of academic services requiring additional
bibliographic information for enhancing their services. For
instance, the upcoming version of the reference manager JabRef
uses Mr. DLib to obtain metadata of PDF files to make manual
data entry superfluous. Also, the academic literature suite
Docear uses Mr. DLib to provide literature recommendations
to its users.
3) Providers who want to build complete services based on data
from Mr. DLib. For instance, the Probability Abstract Service
(PAS)1 at the University of California, Berkeley has installed a
web site informing users about the latest articles in the field of
Probability. Every time a user visits the PAS website, data is
delivered in real-time by Mr. DLib.
2. MR DLIB
Mr. DLib’s dataset is built by a Web crawler, crawling the
Web constantly for full-texts of academic articles, mostly PDFs.
Currently, there are more than 2 million full-text articles in Mr.
DLib`s database and bibliographic data of several million
articles, mostly in the field of computer science.
To access data, Mr. DLib offers an API via a RESTful  Web
Service. In contrast to a SOAP Web Service, REST is oriented
closely on the HTTP standard. This makes using the API easy
for web developers because they know the basic concepts
already. In addition, REST focuses on resources. With regard to
Mr. DLib, there are five types of resources: documents2,
persons3, conferences, journals, and organizations4. Whenever
possible Mr. DLib provides links between the resources, for
instance between authors and articles and between articles and
Figure 1: List of documents in XML format
To retrieve data, a simple HTTP GET command on a URI with
an HTTP client (e.g. a Web browser) is sufficient. The URI
structure follows the pattern http://api.mr-dlib.org/<resource_type>/
2 Such as journal and conference articles, conference proceedings, books,
3 Such as authors, editors, and conference chairs
4 Such as universities and publishers
Joeran Beel, Bela Gipp, Stefan Langer, Marcel Genzmehr, Erik Wilde, Andreas Nürnberger, and Jim Pitman. Introducing Mr. DLib, a Machine-readable Digital
Library. In Proceedings of the 11th ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL‘11), 2011. ACM. Downloaded from www.docear.org
For instance, http://api.mr-dlib.org/documents/ lists all documents in
Mr. DLib`s database, including some basic metadata and a URI
pointing to the specific document with more data (see Figure
1). Also status messages are adopted from the HTTP 1.1
standard. For instance, when a resource does not exist, a 404
NOT FOUND error message is returned and when a request was
successful, 200 OK is returned.
2.2 Querying specific resources
Each resource has a unique ID on Mr. DLib and complete
metadata can be retrieved by requesting http://api.mr-dlib.org/
dlib.org/documents/2162455/ delivers metadata for the document
with ID=2162455 as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Metadata for a document (excerpt)
Depending on the resource, different data elements are
returned. For instance, for a journal article, elements such as
the title, authors, keywords, publishing date, page numbers,
and URIs to full-texts are returned.
In addition to the unique ID, a resource can be identified in
more ways. A document can be retrieved via specifying its title
(e.g. http://api.mr-dlib.org/documents/Academic Search Engine Optimiz
ation (ASEO): Optimizing Scholarly Literature for Google Scholar & Co./), a
third party ID (e.g. http://api.mr-dlib.org/documents/#acm:187362/), or
a “clean-title”5 (e.g. http://api.mr-dlib.org/documents/academicsearche
addition, a PDF may be send to Mr. DLib via HTTP POST
command and Mr. DLib then extracts relevant metadata from
the PDF to identify it and returns available metadata.
2.3 Querying specific elements of a resource
As shown in Figure 2 each element (e.g. title) is retrievable via
a separate URI, for instance http://api.mr-dlib.org/documents/21624
55/title/ or http://api.mr-dlib.org/documents/2162455/keywords/. This
reduces traffic when a user just wants to receive a specific
element and not the complete set of metadata for a resource. It
also allows retrieving impact metrics and related documents
which are not available in the basic view to save computing
power and traffic. For impact metrics, such as citation counts,
h-index, impact factor, etc. http://api.mr-dlib.org/<resource_type>/
<id>/impact/ has to be retrieved. Mr. DLib also offers related
articles that can be retrieved via http://api.mr-dlib.org/ documents/
<id>/related/ (in future versions this might be available for other
resources, e.g. authors, too).
5 To eliminate errors through different spellings we remove all special
characters and spaces from a title
2.4 Query parameters
Various parameters may be used to specify the request. Valid
‘format’ specifies the data format in which results are
returned in. Currently, Mr. DLib supports XML and JSON.
‘display’ specifies what elements shall be displayed for a
resource. For instance, http://api.mr-dlib.org/documents/2162455/
?display=title,id,type,keywords returns a result similar to Figure
2, but contains only the specified elements and no others.
‘accuracy’ specifies whether only exact matches shall be
returned (accuracy=exact) or also results with slight
‘sort’ specifies the order results are returned in
(alphabetically, relevance, date_created, date_lastmodified,
‘dlo’ (date low) and ‘dhi’ (date high) specify a date range.
For instance, http://api.mr-dlib.org/documents/?dlo=2011-01-01&
dhi=2011-02-28 returns documents published in January and
‘order’ specifies whether results are ordered ‘ascending’ or
‘page’ specifies which page number of the result list shall
be displayed and ‘number’ the number of results per page.
‘filter’ is a special parameter because the user can limit the
original query to a subset of data. For instance, http://api.mr-
dlib.org/documents/?filter=arxiv would display all documents in
Mr. DLib`s database originally coming from Arxiv.org.
Mr. DLib is in Beta stage: it is functional and in use by some
third parties (e.g. Docear). However, authentication methods,
URIs, filters, query parameters, and other details may change in
the final version. In addition, effective measures against spam
need to be taken , performance must be improved, duplicate
identification of papers and author name disambiguation is a
challenge, and rights management respectively licensing is not
yet fully clarified.
Also, a comprehensive search function is planned to allow
searching for papers, authors, etc. by specifying keywords, and
users shall be enabled to add and modify data. In the long run,
faceted search, feeds, canonical URIs, and more standardized
query parameters are planned to be implemented.
 D Benz, A Hotho, R Jäschke, B Krause, F Mitzlaff, C
Schmitz, and G Stumme. The social bookmark and publication
management system BibSonomy. The VLDB Journal, 19 (6):
849–875, December 2010.
 R.T. Fielding. Architectural Styles and the Design of
Network-based Software Architectures. Phd thesis, University
of California, Irvine, 2000.
 Joeran Beel and Bela Gipp. Academic search engine spam
and Google Scholar’s resilience against it. Journal of
Electronic Publishing, 13 (3), December 2010.