Imagine: The End of Multiple Citation Styles

William Gunn posed one of the most intriguing questions I have seen in some time:

I readily admit to feeling a sense of elation and relief at the thought of one uniform citation style instead of the current maze of style manuals we are often forced to negotiate.  What do you think?  What would be the pros and cons of such a simple yet bold move?  How might the simplification of citation style impact student research?   I invite you to contribute to the conversation at FriendFeed and/or here on my blog.

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3 comments

  1. I’ve ALWAYS been amazed there are so many styles for something that should be so simple and straightforward. As a copyeditor on a number of projects, it never fails that even the PhD holding folks in their fields are clueless about their own citation styles — a result, I think, partially of knowing there’s someone to do the dirty work for them but also because they don’t know since they’ve been exposed to so many. Each publication requires something a little different. Why there isn’t one…well…I think there should be! It’s bold but bold within reason and logic.

  2. I have never seen mention of the topic regarding changing different citation styles to one style. I am very glad to read your blog entry. For me, it has just been one of those hassles that I have put up with over the years. It has a similar feeling to the inconvenience of the differences between PC and Macintosh computers. Many nations in Europe finally decided to go with one currency. Similar challenges exist with languages. The U.S. struggles to embrace different languages spoken within the country. Switzerland seems to manage fine with a few different languages. Unique languages help provide cultural identity. The connection between language and culture are much stronger than the need for independence of citation styles. I struggle with the complexities of miles, inches, feet, tablespoons, quarts, and gallons in the U.S. measurement system. I wish the U.S. would adopt the metric system. Working in divisions of ten seems so simple. The U.S. measurement system uses divisions of all kinds.
    The agreement to use AACR2 rules for cataloging has probably simplified cataloging procedures from what could otherwise be a huge variety of methods. How was AACR2 agreed upon? Could the same be done for citation styles?
    I would guess that the different citation methods evolved to serve specific purposes of various academic disciplines. Order and emphasis, and level of specificity or interest in brevity probably helped shape the existing style formats. I can recognize that the various formats may have certain advantages. However, I wonder how important these advantages really are? Having all the different systems seems like one big disadvantage. I share your enthusiasm for a unified system; I would love to see the complexity of citation styles simplified to one system.

    Wayne A.

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