Heidi Harley
Glot International 4.6, 1-3.
Publication year: 2000

I am at best an impatient bibliographer. In the excitement of actually getting words on paper, I’m often inclined to include citations like “As argued in Shlomsbordus (19XX) pp ??” or make little footnotes to myself: 1 find out who said this first – think Saussure XX? After all, if I interrupted my flow of thought to get the actual dates and relevant page of Shlomsbordus’ opus, or send a note to some knowledgeable person asking about what Saussure may or may not have asserted, the flow might slow to a trickle, or pool into a stinky, smelly, stagnant, sulfurous swamp, and I might never get to the end of the page. Of course, when I triumphantly arrive at the end of the paper, my moment of accomplishment and satisfaction is soon smothered by the prospect of hunting down all those sources and page numbers, typing out references, and matching citations to references and references to citations. Inevitably, of course, there’s some conference talk whose handout I’ve lost, or an obscure volume that I returned to the library and has since been taken out again by a faculty member who’s now on sabbatical in Tupungato, or a ms. that may now be forthcoming, but I’m not sure where or if it’s just under review, or a crucial argument about dative movement in a 817-page book whose index entry for dative movement looks like this: dative movement: 2, 3, 4-12, 18, 21-22, 44, 46, 48, 50, 52, 60-74, 80, 100… you get the idea. Or all of the above. And I am cast into despair.

Even if my sad case is contrasted with that of the prepared individual who sits, surrounded by neat piles of the relevant photocopied articles, journals, books, handouts, msses, etc. and includes each relevant citation in full as she goes, preparing references is

a tedious and time-consuming process. Many scholars of my acquaintance use their thesis bibliography as a sort of basic database, cutting and pasting references from it, adding new ones as necessary. Even if one adopts this procedure, the tasks of checking the existence of every cited paper in the list of references and vice versa, and reformatting references to comply with the style of the journal you’re submitting to is both mind- numbingly boring and incredibly picky work. It’s the kind of job a computer should be able to do for you, if there was only some good software available. And now, coming to the point at last, I have discovered that of course there is.