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Proposed change to CSL input XML

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Proposed change to CSL input XML

Thomas O'Reilly
Sebastian seems to have a solid grasp on the issues. I also often share his frustration with legal citations. Just so that everyone in the conversation knows what the deal is about legal citations, I have included some background.

Legal decisions are published in serial publications called "reporters". In the U.S. there are two main commercial reporters - LexisNexis and Westlaw - and a smattering of government reporters for various courts. The commercial reporters are objectively better. They are comprehensive, and they are heavily annotated; everyone I ever met in the profession uses either LexisNexis or Westlaw. However, reporters are expensive, and they consume a lot of space in an office, so law offices usually subscribe to either Lexis or Westlaw, but not both. Parallel citations were designed so that legal readers could benefit from reading a document, even if they had a different reporter than the one preferred by the writer. The practical importance of parallel citations is diminishing as the legal world moves into the digital environment, but parallel citations are still a requirement in many jurisdictions and journals.


What would my proposal look like in an actual CSL style? I am not an expert in CSL, but I'll give it my best shot. The most important use case for a "serials" variable is for parallel citations. I will show how an existing CSL style could be modified to add support for parallel citations.

My example is taken from "bluebook.csl". The excerpt below shows the styling instructions for creating the long form citation for legal opinions.

Bluebook.csl

      <else-if type="legal_case">
        <text variable="title" suffix=", " font-variant="normal"/>
        <text variable="number" suffix=", "/>
        <group delimiter=" ">
          <text variable="volume"/>
          <text variable="container-title"/>
          <text variable="page"/>
        </group>
        <text variable="locator" prefix=", "/>
        <group prefix=" (" suffix=")" delimiter=" ">
          <text variable="authority"/>
          <date variable="issued">
            <date-part name="month" form="short" suffix=" "/>
            <date-part name="day" suffix=", "/>
            <date-part name="year"/>
          </date>
        </group>
      </else-if>


My proposed modification would be to allow CSL styles to encapsulate essential information about a serial publication within a <serials> element. The <serials> block would have one or more <serial> children which contained the text variables.

Modified-Bluebook.csl

      <else-if type="legal_case">
        <text variable="title" suffix=", " font-variant="normal"/>
        <text variable="number" suffix=", "/>
        <serials variable="reporter">
           <serial delimiter=", " >
                <group delimiter=" ">
                    <text variable="volume"/>
                    <text variable="container-title"/>
                    <text variable="page"/>
                </group>
              <text variable="locator" prefix=", "/>
           </serial>
        </serials>
        <group prefix=" (" suffix=")" delimiter=" ">
          <text variable="authority"/>
          <date variable="issued">
            <date-part name="month" form="short" suffix=" "/>
            <date-part name="day" suffix=", "/>
            <date-part name="year"/>
          </date>
        </group>
      </else-if>


There are two things that I want to point out about the modified-bluebook.csl. One, parallel citations are separated by commas, so the <serial> element has a delimiter attribute.

Two, the "locator" text variable has to be inside the <serial> element - which is something I did not consider in my first post. Each parallel citation has to have its own "pincite" or "locator".

A citation rendered with the modified-bluebook styling would appear as follows.

"Czapinski v. St. Francis Hosp., Inc., 2000 WI 80, 86, 236 Wis. 2d 316, 319, 613 N.W.2d 120, 122. (Wis. 2000)"

In closing:

I recognize that CSL should not adopt any changes that are not supported by the major stakeholders. However, I am very interested in your feedback on the technical merits of the proposal.

- Tom O'Reilly

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Re: Proposed change to CSL input XML

Bruce D'Arcus-3

Whenever a case like this comes up, I try to generalize.

So the proposal is fine, except I wonder if there's really need for a new element to support this, and if it might be generalized.

Thinking out loud, this is basically a situation where there is more than one "container". Maybe one or more new attributes on cs:group?


On Mon, Sep 26, 2016, 12:56 PM Thomas O'Reilly <[hidden email]> wrote:
Sebastian seems to have a solid grasp on the issues. I also often share his frustration with legal citations. Just so that everyone in the conversation knows what the deal is about legal citations, I have included some background.

Legal decisions are published in serial publications called "reporters". In the U.S. there are two main commercial reporters - LexisNexis and Westlaw - and a smattering of government reporters for various courts. The commercial reporters are objectively better. They are comprehensive, and they are heavily annotated; everyone I ever met in the profession uses either LexisNexis or Westlaw. However, reporters are expensive, and they consume a lot of space in an office, so law offices usually subscribe to either Lexis or Westlaw, but not both. Parallel citations were designed so that legal readers could benefit from reading a document, even if they had a different reporter than the one preferred by the writer. The practical importance of parallel citations is diminishing as the legal world moves into the digital environment, but parallel citations are still a requirement in many jurisdictions and journals.


What would my proposal look like in an actual CSL style? I am not an expert in CSL, but I'll give it my best shot. The most important use case for a "serials" variable is for parallel citations. I will show how an existing CSL style could be modified to add support for parallel citations.

My example is taken from "bluebook.csl". The excerpt below shows the styling instructions for creating the long form citation for legal opinions.

Bluebook.csl

      <else-if type="legal_case">
        <text variable="title" suffix=", " font-variant="normal"/>
        <text variable="number" suffix=", "/>
        <group delimiter=" ">
          <text variable="volume"/>
          <text variable="container-title"/>
          <text variable="page"/>
        </group>
        <text variable="locator" prefix=", "/>
        <group prefix=" (" suffix=")" delimiter=" ">
          <text variable="authority"/>
          <date variable="issued">
            <date-part name="month" form="short" suffix=" "/>
            <date-part name="day" suffix=", "/>
            <date-part name="year"/>
          </date>
        </group>
      </else-if>


My proposed modification would be to allow CSL styles to encapsulate essential information about a serial publication within a <serials> element. The <serials> block would have one or more <serial> children which contained the text variables.

Modified-Bluebook.csl

      <else-if type="legal_case">
        <text variable="title" suffix=", " font-variant="normal"/>
        <text variable="number" suffix=", "/>
        <serials variable="reporter">
           <serial delimiter=", " >
                <group delimiter=" ">
                    <text variable="volume"/>
                    <text variable="container-title"/>
                    <text variable="page"/>
                </group>
              <text variable="locator" prefix=", "/>
           </serial>
        </serials>
        <group prefix=" (" suffix=")" delimiter=" ">
          <text variable="authority"/>
          <date variable="issued">
            <date-part name="month" form="short" suffix=" "/>
            <date-part name="day" suffix=", "/>
            <date-part name="year"/>
          </date>
        </group>
      </else-if>


There are two things that I want to point out about the modified-bluebook.csl. One, parallel citations are separated by commas, so the <serial> element has a delimiter attribute.

Two, the "locator" text variable has to be inside the <serial> element - which is something I did not consider in my first post. Each parallel citation has to have its own "pincite" or "locator".

A citation rendered with the modified-bluebook styling would appear as follows.

"Czapinski v. St. Francis Hosp., Inc., 2000 WI 80, 86, 236 Wis. 2d 316, 319, 613 N.W.2d 120, 122. (Wis. 2000)"

In closing:

I recognize that CSL should not adopt any changes that are not supported by the major stakeholders. However, I am very interested in your feedback on the technical merits of the proposal.

- Tom O'Reilly
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