02 maart 2007


Open letter to David M. Leslie Jr. and Meredith J. Hamilton

Dear David and Meredith

I just read with interest your article on standardized citation styles in Serials Review. I can't agree more with your article. You addressed the issue from the time spend on writing and correcting reference lists in and for journal articles.
Another compelling argument however, is missed impact because of erroneous citation scanning by institutes like Thomson Scientific (ISI) when they capture references for their Web of Science. And recently Elsevier, they have to do a similar job for their Scopus database. The scanning programs do a fair job, but errors do occur. We all know by looking at the cited reference search results lists in the Web of Science. These errors are partly caused by the many different instructions to authors stipulated by the thousands scholarly journals out there. Errors in citation data is missed impact, is reduced chances of promotion or scholarship etc....
The entry of Elsevier in the arena of citation data is therefore interesting. On the one hand they have to recognize all the different reference styles because they publish electronic journals and want to link out to the full text wherever possible, secondly they want to capture citation data for their Scopus database. As a publishers of some 1800 different titles, with probably about 1800 different instructions to authors the are the most influential party to take steps on your idea on standardizing these rules.
Another interest I have in this matter, as a subject librarian we train students and staff to use EndNote. EndNote X comes with some 2,500 different journal styles, whereas we as a library subscribe to some 10,000 different titles. Chances are small that an EndNote style is already available for a specific journal. Of course you can compose your own styles. We do that quite often. But it is a frustrating experience. Instructions to authors often diverge from the actual reference list in the journal, they are often incomplete. And indeed, they don't match the modern metadata standards.

Yours sincerely
Wouter Gerritsma

PS, I will post this on my blog (http://www.wowter.nl/blog) so Elsevier can read it as well.

David M. Leslie Jr. and Meredith J. Hamilton, (2007). A Plea for a Common Citation Format in Scientific Serials, Serials Review, 33(1): 1-3.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.serrev.2006.11.009 (Subscription required)

In humour: Serials review is an Elsevier imprint.

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