Thursday, 5 July 2012

The cite that's right

The Bluebook is a grand old US institution.  As its website proudly states:
"Generations of law students, lawyers, scholars, judges, and other legal professionals have relied on The Bluebook's unique system of citation in their writing. In a diverse and rapidly changing legal profession, The Bluebook continues to provide a systematic method by which members of the profession communicate important information to one another about the sources and legal authorities upon which they rely in their work".
Users of the Bluebook will find the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice cited as “J. Intell. Prop. L. & Pract.” -- which conforms to the Bluebook's system. But that's not the form of citation which this journal employs.  Since its inception in 2005 the journal has been abbreviated to the letters "JIPLP", generally pronounced "jip-lip". JIPLP is not the only journal that does not refer to itself by reference to the Bluebook methodology. The European Intellectual Property Review prefers EIPR to "Eur. Intell. Prop. Rev." and the International Trademark Association's Trademark Reporter, which recently celebrated its centenary, cites itself as TMR, not “Trademark Rep.”

While there is much to be said for the adoption of a standard form of citation, there is also a good deal to be said for respecting the goodwill that has been accrued over the years in which a non-Bluebook form of citation has been used by a journal's readers, publishers, editors and contributors. If you are in doubt as to whether to adopt Bluebook citations or not, it's prudent and simple to check before you create your footnotes.

2 comments:

  1. Jeremy,

    Please spare a thought for us librarians! Although the vast majority of people following a citation to JIPLP may be specialists in intellectual property, there will be some who are not. I have in the past come to the aid of colleagues who were unfamiliar with the abbreviations FSR and RPC (though I admit that the British Library could help immensely by adding these abbreviations to the relevant records in its catalogue).

    You should also bear in mind that in future JIPLP might change its name or (perish the thought) cease publication. Within a relatively short time, people will forget the abbreviation.

    I recall many years ago working a the Patent Office as it was, trying to track down a Designs case from the Victorian era. I only had the publication name as a four-letter abbreviation, doubtless commonplace to intellectual property specialists at the time, but a complete mystery to anybody now. It took a couple of months to track it down.

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  2. I'm with Jeremy, a starting point has to be what the journal calls itself. Even taking into account the defunctness of journals it would not in any event occur to me, as an English lawyer, to look at the Blue Book as it is American, and there are lots of jurisdictional differences - a different point from Jeremy's plea for respect, I know. If I'm looking for citations for UK/EU I'd start with OSCOLA which (cross-refering to Cardiff Index of Legal Abbreviations) gives the correct citation for both JIPLP and EIPR (and no doubt many others).

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