He Haibo: Creating the Blue Book of Citation for China

Although the citation belongs to the “minutiae” of academic research, it is a work or even a mature discipline. In May 2020, the “Law Introduction Manual” jointly developed by 35 law journals, publishing houses and data companies was published by Peking University Press. This is the first detailed and complete citation manual for the Chinese academic community, and its publication means that the academia has taken an important step towards a standardized and unified citation system. As an enthusiastic promoter of a unified citation style, the author has participated in the preparation of the citation manual from beginning to end. Here I share some ideas in the preparation with the reader.He Haibo: Creating the Blue Book of Citation for China

China Law Journal 1 week ago

Creating a blue book of citations for China
——The postscript of “Law Introduction Manual”
 
Professor He Haibo, School of Law, Tsinghua University
Although the citation belongs to the “minutiae” of academic research, it is a work or even a mature discipline. In May 2020, the “Law Introduction Manual” jointly developed by 35 law journals, publishing houses and data companies was published by Peking University Press. This is the first detailed and complete citation manual for the Chinese academic community, and its publication means that the academia has taken an important step towards a standardized and unified citation system. As an enthusiastic promoter of a unified citation style, the author has participated in the preparation of the citation manual from beginning to end. Here I share some ideas in the preparation with the reader.

01

Why write a citation manual
Citations are the product of the standardization of academic research, and the standardization of citations has led to the unification of citations.
At present, the citation styles of legal works in my country can be described in various ways. Not only are the citation styles of college journals and most law journals quite different, there are also many differences between law journals and law books. Some scholars compared the citation styles of 23 journals and found that “no two are exactly the same.” Because each family has its own experience, the author is at a loss and is often forced to change it: if he casts a journal, he will change his style; when he publishes a paper, he will change his style. When he publishes a book, he will change his style. If the author can’t get it right, the editors have to change it one by one. An editor said that she spent most of her time helping the author change the citation format.
Formulating and using a unified citation system is a common practice in contemporary academic circles. In the English-speaking world, the United States, Britain, Australia, and even India and the Philippines have their own legal citations. The Bluebook in the United States is of course the most famous. This blue book was originally written for the Harvard Law Review in 1926. Later, the three legal reviews of Yale, Columbia, and Penn also participated, and it has now been published in the twentieth edition, which is almost dominated by American law journals.
Just like “cars on the same track, books on the same text”, “note the same example” is the general trend and the people’s wishes. Therefore, when several journals and publishers advocated “joint formulation and similar use”, they immediately received a broad response.
02
What kind of citation method is needed

The style of citation we want to formulate should be a style of citation adapted to the actual needs of contemporary Chinese legal research. It must be different from the prevailing system in the field of humanities and social sciences, and the prevailing system of foreign legal citations, and the legal citation system 20 years ago.
(1) Citation style of “legal science”
The field of humanities and social sciences in China is not without citations. The education department, quality inspection department, and press and publication departments have issued relevant standards. Since it already exists, why should the legal profession “make a set of its own”? First, the existing citation standards are recommended and not legally binding. Secondly, the three standards themselves are not unified, and there are also differences in the way they are used in the legal profession. The most important thing is that the existing standards do not take into account the characteristics of legal works, and there are no provisions on many issues of legal citation. Compared with other disciplines, the distinguishing feature of legal research is that the number of citation documents is generally large, and legal documents and judicial cases are cited frequently. Because there are many citation documents, it is inconvenient to arrange the citation contents one by one after the article (that is, “post-text note”). Because it involves legal documents and judicial cases, it is very inconvenient to list references, texts, and authors and page numbers after popular texts in some disciplines. For these reasons, it is natural for the citation style of legal works to “make one’s own”.
(2) Citation style of “China”
Since there are mature foreign introduction styles, why don’t we use them directly? The answer is: I can’t copy it. The truth is like a legal transplant, we can only learn from it, but we cannot copy it. Chinese works mainly refer to Chinese documents, and their huge number and detailed types are unmatched by foreign works citing Chinese documents. Chinese has its own habit of expressing, for example, the article name uses the book title number, if you learn Bluebook, the article name uses quotation marks, it is very “see outside”.
So, is it possible for Chinese works to cite foreign languages ??to copy the style of the language? Or not. We had planned to quote the English literature directly in the format of the American Law Blue Book, but found that it could not be used. For example: the latest version of the Blue Book requires that small, capital letters be used for the names of newspapers, magazines, and books. The so-called “small capital letters” are all capital letters, but the initial letter of each word is larger, and the latter letters are smaller, such as YALE LAW JOURNAL. The use of small capital letters is more beautiful than all capitals, and is easier to recognize. However, Chinese authors are generally unfamiliar with small capital letters. Chinese phototypesetting systems do not have corresponding processing software, and most readers still have trouble reading English capital letters. For this reason, we give up the idea of ??following the blue book, and adjust and unify on the basis of the English literature citation methods common in Chinese journals and books. For these instructions, we must formulate a Chinese citation system for Chinese authors, editors, and readers.
(3) “Contemporary” citation style
For academic research, the large number of references to foreign literature, the rise of interdisciplinary research, and the high reliance on Internet and database resources have become the main characteristics of “contemporary”.
Due to the large amount of foreign literature cited in academic works, there is a general rule on how to cite foreign literature. It is not enough to simply say “custom from the language”. The introduction of social science research methods has led to the emergence of unpublished literature such as observations and interviews. Statistical data and charts are becoming more and more common. Citation styles must have an explanation for this. A large number of documents are published on the Internet, and even there are many valuable original articles on personal blogs and WeChat public accounts. It is not feasible to completely disable documents on the Internet. At the same time, massive documents are included in the database. Retrieving literature on the Internet and databases is the first choice of many authors. It is also worth considering whether to mark the publisher’s location and article page numbers as before.
Based on today’s technical conditions, we have laid down a number of principles for the above issues. For example, paper publications should be cited with priority. Citations of Internet documents should indicate the date of document upload (not the “last access date”) and web links. Only the specific content of the article should be quoted before the page number is required.
03
What is this citation manual

When starting the writing of the citation manual, there were different ideas: whether to write a concise style, or a detailed and comprehensive style? After the discussion, everyone reached a consensus: the introduction style should be comprehensive, specific, convenient and practical.
(1) Comprehensive coverage
The citation manual discusses the basic requirements of citations, the general format of citations, and the paper parts related to citations, as a general specification for citations. Where should be cited, and which documents are suitable for citation, foreign citation manuals are generally not talked about, but Chinese academic circles still lack norms and need special emphasis. Where the citation symbols should be placed and how the citation information is arranged is of course an important content. Chinese citation styles are introduced separately according to the nature of citation literature. In addition to the most commonly used paper publications, it also stipulates the citation of Internet TV literature, unpublished literature, legal documents, judicial cases, and statistical data. This section is the most detailed. In addition, the citation manual uses one-third of the space to specify common citation styles in four languages: English, French, German and Japanese.
(2) Specific content
At present, most of the citation styles, including several recommended national standards and industry standards, are relatively simple. The simple advantage is that seeking common ground while reserving differences is easy to be accepted; however, all kinds of citation questions can’t be fully answered by only two or three pages. At present, the relatively mature citation styles in the world are quite considerable, basically the size of a book. It can be seen that in order to provide useful guidance for authors and editors, the citation style must abandon the idea of ??”it should be coarse but not fine”, and strive to be specific and detailed on the basis of summarizing practical experience, and “seeking common ground to eliminate differences”. Of course, the citation manual is not as thick as possible, nor does it require absolute unity. Some problems need to gradually accumulate experience in the future, and some problems need to reserve space for authors and editors.
(3) Convenient and practical
The text of the citation manual is nearly 30,000 words, with a length of 80 pages. The layout method needs to be as convenient as possible for reference and use. We did not use the Arabic numerals used in Bluebook plus the dots (such as “1.4.2”) to arrange, but refer to the usual Chinese law, hierarchical arrangement, mainly strips, and the serial numbers of the articles are continuously encoded with Arabic numerals. This is also a Chinese characteristic. In order to facilitate the reader to quickly grasp the essence of the citation style, 20 short examples are set in the front of the citation manual, and the writing instructions are given later. The citation manual is printed in two colors at the time of publication, which is clear and beautiful. I think it is not inferior to put it together with any other citation manual.
The compilation of the Handbook of Legal Citation Notes is a summary of the long-term exploration of the citation method in the legal community, and is also the product of the participation and collective discussion of many scholars and editors. Relevant leaders of the Chinese Law Society highly affirmed the formulation of this manual, and the Law Society of China Law Society will strongly recommend it. I believe that this manual can promote the standardization of legal citations, and to a large extent solve the problem of inconsistent citations. Of course, the perfection of the introduction style cannot be accomplished in one battle. We welcome colleagues in the legal profession to continue to discuss the issues in the legal citations in the future. After using the manual for a period of time, the formulating unit will revise and improve it based on extensively listening to the opinions of all parties.

Source of this article: “Legal Daily”, June 23, 2020, 09 edition

The full text is reproduced from the WeChat public account of the School of Law of Tsinghua University

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