Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Citation formats

Okay, here's a quick question for all you other interdisciplinary types: How do you deal with citations? I mean... okay, here's my problem, journals that I read, have, or might submit to require entirely different formats for citations. On my shelf, among other things, I have:
Each one, proclaiming a slightly different formatting. I'm even running into this issue on my personal research website. For now, I'm just citing things the way I have them written down, or some logical means that I happen upon for the moment. When I taught at the community college, I used to just tell my students (much to the dismay of colleagues) that the rule was to cite enough information that any reasonable person could find the source in a library in five minutes or less. I've just read so many different formats, that I have no idea which is which, and I don't really care.

Remember last month, when I was preparing that dissertation distillation article? I spent about three days simply reformatting the thing (mostly footnotes to endnotes, and changing citation formats). Alright, this is one of the banes of interdisciplinarity. In order to talk to different audiences, you have to learn to speak their language. Sometimes I wish someone would just write up a script that would automatically change citations into various formats.

That doesn't quite handle the issue entirely though, since as I pointed out during that reformatting process just mentioned, some of the reformatting meant rethinking whether something should be an inline citation or a footnote, or perhaps just remade into main text, with or without a citation. No program is going to replace those thought processes. But it could help.

How nice it would be to enter information into fields, then select the formatting from a drop-down list [Chicago;footnote] style please, and brrrling There you go!


Ahistoricality said...

I know there are note-taking/bibliographic software packages that do that, but I just write in Chicago style (the most complete information) and spend the time hand-altering it when I submit.

trillwing said...

Ditto to ahistoricality. I've had a couple of faculty advise me to write in Chicago. And lazy me, I chose to submit my first article to a journal that used Chicago. :)

Please let us know if you find a solution to this thorny topic.

ArticulateDad said...

Thanks for the comments, folks. I think I'll just learn Chicago down pat, and try to make the alterations easy for myself. Maybe I'll write up a little reconfiguration routine. Sorry I haven't programmed in about a dozen years, so my skills are useless today. I could probably do it in WordPerfect 6.0 Macro language... but then again, I won't! I'm just talking bulleted text here, so I don't have to pull books off my shelf every time.

Since I have consensus among you, I'll just adopt that standard myself, and deal with the alterations as needed. Maybe I can rethink my writing to keep the footnotes to a minimum, thus minimizing anything other than format changes.

But I'll definitely let you know if I discover anything interesting. I've been curious about some of these citation manager and export citation buttons or links in some of the article databases and download pages. Some of them are simply plain text files, but I suspect there may be more to it than that.

Ahi, any of those software packages open source?

Ahistoricality said...

Ummm.... me? I don't even remember what most of them are called.... NotaBene is one, I know.

A bit of googling will probably dredge up one of the periodic "which citation software do you use" discussions that periodically break out on the academic blogs. But hardly any of the people I read would use something that as open source, as most of the humanities/social science folks I know can't program.....

Ahistoricality said...

With any luck, there's about to be a discussion of NotaBene here, possibly including Cyrllic support.