Over the last while an increasing number of resources provide a means of converting citations into specific citation styles (e.g. Harvard, Turabian, APA &c.). Citation styles are becoming more standard, and each publisher and discipline has its own preferred or even mandatory method for citing sources. Apart from classic subscription databases, we first noticed the option to reformat citations in Worldcat, within the item’s record, under ‘cite / export’. Then it appeared on scholar.google.com, just under the record as ‘cite.’ We started digging deeper and found it also on the Library of Congress catalogue. The British Library does not offer this facility, but does provide links to the Worldcat entries, from which the option is available.
Our students love this option, especially the mature, part-timers, who don’t have the inclination, time or energy to try fully to understand the intricacies of citation styles. They can simply copy and paste the citation, assuming that it’s correct, straight into their assignments or dissertations.
However, there are two main problems with this otherwise very welcome facility. Firstly, there is little or no consistency in which citation styles are included; Worldcat provides 5 options (APA, Chicago, Harvard, MLA and Turabian); Google Scholar offers only three styles – (MLA, APA and Chicago) and Library of Congress states that it does not follow any specific style. While the styles offered by Worldcat and Google Scholar are very widely used, they exclude a lot of other standard styles (e.g. Vancouver) and do not offer any options for those who have to use very niche styles (e.g. lawyers, or, indeed, Irish historians). Moreover, although Google Scholar provides citations for books in its preferred styles, Google Books does not.
Secondly, there is little consistency in which export options are provided; for Worldcat offers Refworks, Endnote, Easybib and Google Scholar Bibtex, Endnote, Refman and Refworks. Neither offers the widely used free options Zotero or Mendeley.
There’s more work to be done on this one!