[Refdb-users] Citestyle, RIS and the problematic 10% ...

I need a couple of variations on this theme.

Having just submitted my book manuscript to the publisher, and having
written all the citation handling code myself, I think I have an
appreciation for some of the last 10%. Keep in mind these are
solutions I came up with for processing MODS with XSLT. I’m not
addressing RIS/Citestylex, though the lessons are pretty general.

(1) For journal articles written by a committee or commission, I would
like to use the commision name (italics) rather than the contributing
authors (who may also be supplied) as the citation text and the first
element of the bibliography entry.

This might be relatively common and I wonder if there may be a protocol
for handling it?

I had a similar issue at the end of a 19 hour day on Thursday with
newspaper articles. Basically, I decided that instead of including the
reporters as the sort key, I’d use the periodical title.

The question was, how to do this? My solution – which I actually
quite like, and related to your issue – is to rely on configuring the
mods “role” handling.

So, I have two variables: primary-contributors and

When the XSLT encounters a record with names, it first says “do any
names that correspond to a primary-contributor exist?” If yes, it uses
them. If not, it uses the alternate sort-key, which is defined like:


So, that’s how I fixed my newspaper issue.

The key point is logic that classes roles. In your example, in MODS
you’d have:

Some Commission author

Because of the role information, it would get formatted right, and you
wouldn’t have to account for it in the style file.

I suspect RefDB could work similarly.

(2)For some particularly common citations (CHAP and BOOK) I need to
be able to use a series-title as the citation text,
instead of the editor (or chapter author).

Hmm … you’ve got some awfully bizarre citation styles to support
here! Why on earth would one cite like this??

Actually, I suppose one way to think of your example is somewhat
backward: the citation is NOT in fact of the book or chapter. Rather,
you are citing the series, but just including its content within that

You actually can do this in MODS IIRC, and it’s not hard to implement
formatting for it. If you insist my reading of the above is wrong,
then I’m afraid things become a lot more complicated.

An important thing I’ve learned in the process of writing the code to
format my work is the close connection between metadata problems and
formatting problems. Often when I was getting strange results, the
problem was not my software, but the data.

In fact it turns out also that both styles may exist in a document,
in which case two separate entries MUST exist in the bibliography.

Specifically, I have the example:
citation text: 'Hahn (1987)'
i.e. editor date
biblioentry: 'Hahn, Th. (1987). Editor. International Tables for
Crystallography, Vol. A, Space-group symmetry …'
i.e editor date “Editor.” series-title volume book/title


citation text: 'International Tables for Crystallography (1987)'
i.e. series-title date
biblioentry: 'International Tables for Crystallography (1987). Vol.
Space-group symmetry, edited by Th. Hahn…'
i.e. series-title, date,volume book-title editor …

Citations can also be made to sections/chapters within the book,
optionally by section author.

The switch seems to be dependent on the citation-key

So I wonder, could some kind of free-format citation key
be generally useful? Something like:

“IntTab87-[T3VDU1]” for tertiary Title, Volume, Date, Userdef1

Not following you. Are you suggesting a locally defined key?

Or does that defeat the objectives of a concise citation notation?

This would also have to trigger a modified or additional
bibliography entry.

An alternative might be a sequential FREEFORMAT extension to complement
YEARONLY, AUTHORONLY and INTEXTDEF, invoked as “IntTab87-F”.
But if its sequential, it might not be quite so flexible.

Any thoughts?

By the way, what, exactly is the problematic 90% of the humanities?

I do work at the border of the social sciences and humanities. When
talking about the latter, I think we’re mostly talking about history
and archival work (which I do some of). With archival documents, you
need to include archive and collection and box/folder information. But
you also need to account for the unique kind of record. For example,
say I have a letter from among a group of letters. For this reason, I
think the dominant solution of defining a “manuscript” type is a hack.
One should code the metadata, and then include the collection and
archive information along with that.

Legal documents, where sortkey is often the work title, can also be a
little tricky.

Also, one feature that RefDB doesn’t yet support but which is CRITICAL
across the social sciences and humanities is locator annotations; e.g.:

(Doe, 1999, page 23)