Igor – a Google Wave robot to manage your references

(Google Wave hasn’t been released yet but if you’re interested in working with the preview you can request a developer account on the sandbox here)

Google Wave is a new open source project from Google that holds a lot of promise as a platform for scholarly communication. It’s a little bit like email but allows for collaborative document editing, versioning and real time conversation within groups – check out Cameron and Martin’s archives for more.

Igor is a proof of concept Wave robot that allows Wave users to pull in citations from Pubmed or their libraries on Connotea and CiteULike as they type.

To use it invite to join a wave.

Say you’d like to cite ‘Chaperonin overexpression promotes genetic variation and enzyme evolution‘ by Nobuhiko Tokuriki and Dan Tawfik from last month’s Nature.

In the Wave you’d write:

… as shown by Tokuriki et al. (cite chaperonin tokuriki)

Igor will notice the (cite x), connect to PubMed, search for articles where the title, authors or journal contain “chaperonin” and “tokuriki” and then pull in the relevant citation. The (cite x) will be replaced with a number and the citation will be appended to the end of the document.

… as shown by Tokuriki et al. [1]


1. Chaperonin overexpression promotes genetic variation and enzyme evolution. Tokuriki et al 2009 Nature


If Igor comes up empty handed or multiple articles match the cite query then it’ll tell you by dropping in a message after the relevant part of the document.

To cite a web page just do

Google Wave (cite

To switch to using your Connotea or Citeulike library you can use the (cite from x) command.


(cite from citeulike dullhunk)

(cite from connotea euanadie)

(cite from pubmed)

You can switch between citation libraries in the same session:

candidate genes include NRG1 (cite from connotea euanadie)(cite schizophrenia neuregulin) and (cite from pubmed)DISC1 (cite PDE4B evans schizophrenia)

Commands are processed in order of appearance so Igor will search Connotea for “schizophrenia neuregulin” and PubMed for “PDE4B evans schizophrenia”.

References are always numbered in order of their first appearance in the text. If you move a reference from the bottom of the article to the top then reference numbers will be change accordingly.

Igor is written in Java and runs on App Engine. It’s almost inevitable that you’ll experience some turbulence, especially when introducing him to a new Connotea or CiteULike account for the first time – Wave robots are very unforgiving of sites timing out. If something looks broken try leaving the wave and coming back to it later or reloading the page. Let us know how you get on!


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