Bibliosidian: Native (Obsidian-first) Bibliographic Reference Graph Management


Bibliosidian is an alternate take on reference management.

Lots of fantastic full-featured approaches exist to bring data from your reference manager, e.g. Zotero, into Obsidian. These are a what you should be using if you use Zotero or your reference manager as your reading/idea manager as well, take annotations there etc. and want to bring them into your PKM after (cognitively) “processing” the document .

With Obsidian properties and PDFs now becoming “first class” Obsidian citizens, however, there is another approach: an Obsidian-first/Obsidian-centric approach, where your reference manager application is an “implementation detail” part of the pipeline, but not foundational to your thinking or your PKM.

This approach for you is for you if:

  • You want to build up a reference-backed knowledge graph PKM, one in which your ideas, writings, notes, etc. are backed up by references that are first-class citizens of your PKM, not just an external link to something
  • You want to be able to work with your references, including bringing them into Obsidian, updating them, cross-linking them etc., without worrying about third-party (or even second-party!) compatibility (e.g., Your Zotero or reference manager version matching up with the Zotero plugin you installed matching up with the Obsidian plugin you are using to talk to the other plugin that talks to etc. — you get the picture).
  • You want to have your PKM’s reference system an independent Obsidian-centric all-local, all-yours, self-contained network that ingests and processes data from your “external” reference manager — or any other reference manager or just the internet (e.g., Google scholar)! That is, rather than making an external program a fundamental (and breakable) part of your PKM workflow, allow this external program to do what it does best outside of the PKM, and use its results as the starting point for the reference scaffold that informs your reading, writing, and idea development workflows.

Enter Bibliosidian:

Have BibTeX will Obsidian.

Get your reference into a BibTeX definition in your clipboard (by export or otherwise copying from Google scholar, Zotero, litmaps, etc. and Bibliosidian will update the relevant reference note (=literature note or source note) and the associated author notes (i.e. a unique note for each author), with the new bibliographic information and cross-link the two. Of course, the notes will be created if they do not already exist, if they do, existing content and non-bibliographic metadata/properties will be preserved/retained :slight_smile:

Here are two video demonstrating this in action (apologies for the low res: I will try and refresh with better copies later).

Here, a single reference is added, showing the reference note and associated author note creation, with cross-linking:

Here, multiple references are added, and as each one gets added, the existing author notes gets updated with the new references:

Right now, the plugin is in “working alpha” mode. I’m “dog-fooding” it happily: using it regularly in my primary working vault, and it has just enough features for day-to-day work. Two more planned features are coming soon: bulk import and (more) customization of field mapping. The motivation came from many different third- and fourth-party applications and plugins required to get my references from Zotero into Obsidian, and how my work comes to a halt when any of these parts breaks or, far more common, updates with breaking changes. With this, you are decoupled from all that – you just need to get the BibTeX, and the rest of the workflow can continue without issues.


This looks very promising. I currently just include a link to my Paperpile entry in each book note. Will it be possible to customise the property names on import?

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From a user perspective, up to a point. Right now, you can set a namespace prefix:

It’s easy enough for the code to have an arbitrary and even arbitrarily-complex mapping (e.g., nested dictionaries). The big challenge is how to expose this as a setting for the user to configure in the modals. I can see an editable grid table with one column being the source field key, and the other the property label. If there is an off-the-shelf component that can do this easily I’ll work it in sooner … otherwise I will work it in later :slight_smile:

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What theme are you using?

Yeah, I am also curious about this. Especially the title banner. It looks great!

Bibliosidian itself is also very intriguing, and the reasoning behind it (decreasing dependencies, incompatibilities and general upkeep) will likely appeal to many!

You should also post about Bibliosidian in the #academic-tools channel on Discord too, @jeetsukumaran!



The theme is a personal one:

Still WIP, lots of little things to iron out, and then a factoring to clean up. But it’s functional, and like the aesthetic :slight_smile:

There’s a light version:

As for Bibliosidian, yep – I’m just firing up the research/teaching pipelines, and am using Bibliosidian plus couple of other plugins (an indexing plugin, shown above, and wikilink-respecting quick Pandoc-to-presentation/lecture/manuscript publication plugin) in full force. Once I have the workflow down (accessing new literature, connecting/annotation PDF’s etc.), I will start sharing tutorials etc.

I also have lots of issues I need help from more experienced people when dealing with Obsidian/Typescript etc. mysteries as well, and hopefully the forums can help :slight_smile:


Thanks for the answer! I found the relevant styling part for the inline title. However, I’m still wondering how you replace the filename with the title property?

That indexing plugin looks very interesting too, and I like how you’ve conceptualized the relationships of the notes / knowledge.

Look forward to hearing more about your work!

Regarding the mysteries you mention, have you reached out on Discord in the #plugin-dev channel? That’s probably the best place to do so.

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Ah, the inline title :slight_smile: I cannot take credit for that, I’m just a very appreciative and grateful user of the “Front Matter Title” plugin, which has LOTS of neat options:


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I am excited to watch the development of this plugin (and your theme, I’m hopping on the bandwagon). Could be a real game changer as PDFs become easier to work with. Thank you for your contribution!

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@jeetsukumaran Is there a guide that walks through configuration of the plug-in? I have it installed and it’s generating notes in the directory I specified, but it’s not generating any frontmatter, and I’m not convinced the note naming convention is correct either, based on your YouTube demos.


OK, I do think I might have an explanation for your second issue, the missing frontmatter. Is it possible that you don’t have an author field? I’ve updated the code to look in the editor field as well as the author. I should have it at least emit a warning if the author data is missing, and maybe not just give up in despair if the work has no authors but carry on with the rest of the front matter :slight_smile:

I’ve responded to your GitHub issue. Something else is renaming your notes with the " 1" extension, and your remaining notes are named correctly though your citeky and author are a private business name and that is maybe why things look weird?

Documentation along with a narrated walkthrough is in progress, but honestly, that’s not too much more to it now than what you see in the video. More generally, I’m working on adding a couple of other critical features – (1) attachment management (or, at least, accession renaming and moving); (2) bulk import of reference; plus maybe a couple other nice-to-have: (3) maybe custom citekey or some sort of citeckey normalization.