The most laborious part of any research paper for me, and probably for many of you, is making sure that the references are formatted in the proper style. Is the title supposed to be in italics? Do I need a period or a comma here? It has always seemed like exactly the kind of thing that a computer should be able to do for me, and now with Mendeley it can. Mendeley uses a system for formatting references called the Citation Style Language (CSL), which is sort of like HTML, but for citations. With Mendeley, you simply tell your word processor what citation style you want (picking from a library of thousands of styles) and our word processor plugin handles the rest. However, not all is roses and pancakes. CSL styles are written by the worldwide community of scholars, and just like pages on Wikipedia, these styles can sometimes contain errors or need updating. Unfortunately, there has never been an easy way to edit citation styles so that everyone using the style can benefit like they do when someone updates a page on Wikipedia. We think it’s time for that to change, and so we’ve partnered with Columbia University, with funding from the Sloan Foundation, to develop a citation style editor that brings our substantial experience in creating a great user experience to the problem of creating and updating citation styles.
We’re currently collecting use cases to guide our development efforts, so we’d love to hear from as many people as possible about how you cite papers and what you need a tool to do. The official place for feedback and use cases is here.