Accidently downloaded multiple citing articles from ACS

Hi everyone,

I know Jabref has automatic download functions, such as “get full text” or “Download from URL” that I have not used much, but there might be a problem with it. I do not remember exactly what I have done, but it appears that Jabref might have tried tried to download all the citing articles of one article in my biblioraphy (more than a hundred of them) in a few minutes. This made an alert from ACS that contacted the admin of our institute, asking us to investigate the origin of this, at the end of which they asked me to uninstall Jabref.

I need to know the origin of this, but I obviously cannot try it again otherwise I might have some problems. Could anyone tell it any of the functions mentionned above could do this ?

Many thanks !

Hi @hcn,

sorry, but this is navel-gazing. If you don’t remember what you have done, then how should we know?

JabRef provides functionality to download pdfs from ACS, but to the best of my knowledge there is no functionality to silently download all citing articles of an article. The only explanation I would have is that you marked all entries in your database (or at least more than a hundred) and then hit Quality -> Look up full text documents. As the name of the menu item suggests, this tries to look up all full text documents and if all of your entries refer to articles on ACS, then it will go to ACS.

I need to emphasize that this is only one way to generate load on ACS and I cannot say if this is actually true. In the end the power and responsibilities lies with the user. However, we are now considering to delete download functionality for ACS from JabRef.

Finally, as a preemptive measure and just in case anybody ever gets the stupid idea that we would be liable for something like this (I am not suggesting you do), here is an excerpt of the MIT license with which we provide JabRef:

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED “AS IS”, WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND,
EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES
OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND
NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT
HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY,
WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING
FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR
OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

Regards
Jörg

2 Likes

" If you don’t remember what you have done, then how should we know? " ? Well, because you obviously know the software better than I do. As I wrote, I may or may not have done something that attempted to download all of the citing article of one article. I do not remember doing anything special, yet I got a warning. If, for example “Download from URL” had the function of downloading ALL of the articles for which there is a link in the URL page, then that could explain everything. I am just trying to continue using Jabref despite the instruction not to do so.

Anyway, thanks for your reply.

Alternatively, is there a way to prevent Jabref from connecting to the internet at all ? I will not be able to use the “build entry from doi” function any longer, but I can do without it.

The most reliable way to achieve this would be to block JabRef from any network access in your firewall. How to do this depends on your operating system, of course. Usually, you need to add a firewall rule in which you link the exectuable of JabRef on your system and configure it to block any outgoing traffic. Then, you should be on the safe side.

Regards
Jörg

We are now enhancing the warning dialog for multi fetches a little to make sure that users are more aware that they are creating traffic when using this functionality, see https://github.com/JabRef/jabref/pull/2402

JabRef now warns from 5 entries onwards (instead of 10) and is a little more explicit.

2 Likes

Many thanks for your quick reply and your contribution. I blocked Jabref from accessing the internet using the firewall (for now). If I may ask you one more thing, could you explain me what would cause the warning window to pop up ? Is it selecting multiple entries then click “Quality -> Look up full text”, or is it downloading an article using the “get fulltext” or the “download from url” button ?

Thanks again in advance.

Hi!
Let me explain you the functionality in a bit more details - which also explains that we do not really understand the problem with ACS:

  • If you are using the “Download from URL” button, only the given URL is accessed and downloaded.
  • If you are clicking on “Get fulltext” it is tried to determine whether a local file matches the set pattern - if no file is found a number of sources are contacted - the list includes, Springer, IEEE, ACS and finally Google Scholar.
    (Side note regarding the internal implementation of the ACS fetcher: The DOI is used to determine the URL to be accessed e.g. leads to http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/bc00018a013 - if there is a match, the document is analyzed whether a PDF link is found. If a link is found the PDF is tried to accessed - which might not work due to missing rights. Thus: For one article only two single HTTP requests should be made)
  • If you are selecting more than one entry and select “Quality -> Look up full text” for each selection the list of sources is accessed, i.e., this is the only way multiple queries should be triggered at ACS. And in this case the warning is shown if more than 5 (previously 10) entries are selected.

Regards,
Matthias