What are cite backlinks

I saw that the org-roam buffer has captions “Backlinks” and “Cite backlinks”.

What kind of links are shown in “Cite backlinks” and how to create them?

I’m new to Emacs/Org-Mode, not only new to Org-Roam.
I searched quite a bit but wasn’t able to figure it out yet.


The cite-backlinks are the backlinks which are created when you’re using Org-ref’s special cite: links. It works with BibTeX, and it’s something that org-roam-bibtex (ORB) tries to facilitate.

It’s mostly used by scholars in their academic work. If you want to learn more, here’s an article by @rgoswami on the topic.

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Here’s a demo:

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Does this mean (a subset of the) Roam files are used as a bibliographic database?
Is this differentiation between links and citations mostly for exports (LaTex) or also for other purposes?

Yes, and they are identified as such by the #+ROAM_KEY: at the top of the files in the GIF above, cf. wiki.

They all are backlinks, but packages like ORB try to do as much as possible with the tooling available. You can watch the demo I’ve recorded to learn more.

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I see. Thanks for the explanation.

Sorry to revive this thread, but I had some additional questions.
Is there any additional benefit from using the cite backlinks from org-ref?

I’m not an academic by any means, but I’m transitioning my notes to use org-roam with the “Roam Research” mindset. I’ve got org-ref setup and the cite backlinks work when inserting an org-ref, but a regular backlink also works if I don’t use org-ref (so inserting via org-roam). So I have a bit a trouble seeing the advantage of using org-ref (unless the advantage is purely for academic purposes => which I don’t need).

I don’t think in Roam Research they make this distinction. I’m already making a distinction by adding a ROAM_TAG and tag it as a literature note.

Think of it as a hardcoded tag for bibliographic references. It’s something that we’ll address in the side-buffer revamp.