|Weekly News Digest
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Mendeley Introduces Open Source Citation Style Editor
Research collaboration startup Mendeley announced the release of the first true what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) citation style editor for open source CSL citation styles—produced in collaboration with Columbia University Libraries and supported by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Most academic journals insist that papers submitted to them conform to the journals own, idiosyncratic citation style. This has led to a proliferation of thousands of different citation styles, often with only minuscule differences in the placement of commas, or the use of quotation marks and italics. To support their users in this arduous task, modern reference management tools like Mendeley ship with 2,789 different citation styles that can be used when formatting a bibliography in Word or Open Office.
It turns out that 2,789 was still not enough. Being able to edit and create new citation styles easily was the top-ranked feature request by a wide margin on Mendeley’s user feedback board. Users frequently lamented that the one particular style they needed was not covered, or that they were unable to switch from tools such as EndNote or RefWorks as long as a particular style was lacking. The citation styles in EndNote or RefWorks are built in a closed, proprietary format, which prevents their re-use in other referencing tools. In response, scholars have created the open source CSL (Citation Style Language) standard, which has since been implemented in tools such as Mendeley, Zotero, Papers, Docear, and Qiqqa.
The main drawback of CSL styles, however, was that editing them required a knowledge of XML code, making it impossible for most researchers to adapt citation styles to their needs. Mendeley’s new WYSIWYG citation style editor allows anyone to click on any element of a citation they would like to change and then format the output with a few simple clicks. The output is saved in CSL-standard compliant XML and can thus be used in any other reference management tool. If researchers do not know the name of the citation style they need, they can simply type in an example, and the Mendeley CSL Editor will suggest matching styles.
Mendeley’s global community of 2 million academics have collectively uploaded more than 300 million research documents to the platform, making it one of the world’s largest academic databases. Now, Mendeley will apply the same principle of crowdsourcing to citation styles.
Mendeley has open-sourced the code of the CSL Editor under the MIT license.
Paula J. Hane
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