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My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor, indexer, and proofreader. This blog is my website.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

E-Publishing, Journals, Page Citations (or Lack Thereof): Yay or Meh?

Working on a book about Latino/a theology. One of the chapter authors quotes a journal that used to be in printed form, but now publishes only electronically. The citation is author, article title, journal name, and month/year. No page number, but a note from the chapter author indicates that no page number appears because the citation is from an electronic journal.

Hmm.

Different takes:

I suppose that if I'm looking up a quote from a journal article online, then I can just search for the term in the article. Good in theory, but half the time when I search for something on a Web page (using, for example, the "find on this page" feature), the search term doesn't appear. One is at the mercy of any number of things that I don't claim to understand. If I suspect that the search feature is not working properly, then I'll search for "the" or "and," and if the computer tells me "Search term not found," then I know that the search engine for that page is not working properly.

And what if it's not a direct quote, but the author is referring to a concept, though not necessarily by the exact name that the cited author uses? Then how is one to find it electronically among what might be thousands of words?

And why would it be so hard for a electronic book/page designer to put in faux numbers somehow so that a researcher could indeed look on a particular page for a concept? I think some forward-thinking designers do this.

Compared to Gutenberg, we're still pretty early in this e-publishing game. There are some quirks to be ironed out. But as a reader, I'd be a whole lot happier if I saw a citation that read something like:

Jim James, "Latinos/as and the Liberation Motif," Hispanic Theology Journal 4, no. 3 (December 2002): 36.

Yeah, I'd have to locate the issue, but I'd feel a whole lot more confident knowing that -- once I did -- I'd pretty quickly be able to find what I was looking for.

2 comments:

moi said...

On occasion, one of my own searches brings me to a book, journal, or article that's been PDFed in it's entire, original form on Google. That seems like a good solution to me – a site like this onto which authors and publishers can put their work, so it's a "true" electronic library.

czar said...

Moi:

Good point, and it seems that would be a quick and easy approach. Yet so much of the industry is gearing up to go all electronic on us, where text can be set up with HTML code and multipurposed, as the current nomenclature has it. There is a huge demand out there for coding text for this very purpose (so it can end up on Kindle, iPods, and God knows where else in years to come). The labor involved in such coding will become yet another aspect of the publishing world that I suspect will be heavily and ultimately contributing to the economy . . . of India.