Automated workflow for pulling PDFs into org-ref + org-roam-bibtex

I regularly find a paper online (e.g. on Arxiv) that I’d like to manage locally with org-ref, org-roam-bibtex, and org-noter.

This workflow seems pretty common, but I’m achieving it with too many manual steps. Either I’ve missed some important documentation, or some automation is missing.

Here’s what works for me.

  1. download the pdf to a local location.
  2. navigate to the bottom of my references.bib
  3. run helm-bibtex
  4. paste the paper title as the search
  5. select “crossref”
  6. press “i” on the best option, which inserts the bibtex entry in references.bib
  7. rename the downloaded pdf to <cite_key>.pdf
  8. In the relevant org file, run C-c ] (org-ref-helm-insert-cite-link) to insert a link to the new reference
  9. Hit return on the link and select the “Add Notes” option.
  10. Move the point to the generated org-noter heading and run org-noter

This only works for papers that crossref finds. For others, I skip org-ref / org-roam-bibtex entirely and just use org-noter.

For reference, my config is here.

Any suggestions welcome!

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I manage all my papers in Zotero. It allows me to cite-as-i-write in Libre/MS office. Moreover, I use better-bibtex plugin to generate a .bib file, that I have both org-ref and ORB use. All the papers I download via zotero are saved in Dropbox and renamed (to citekey) via zotfile plugin.

As a result, I have an always up-to-date .bib file in emacs.

My workflow :

  1. Grab paper in zotero via Firefox plugin -> automatically renamed and stored and .bib updated.
  2. Open helm-bibtex
  3. Find paper in helm
  4. hit f9 (Which is edit notes - opens up org-roam capture template I have setup)
  5. M-x Org-Noter (For which I have a chord set up SPC o a)
  6. Take notes.
  7. File notes C-c C-c
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