So here’s a crazy idea. I’ve been thinking about how bibliography software generates reference lists that are formatted for a specific journal. Obviously Endnote lets you import styles, but how about all those non-Endnote users? RefDB employs SGML, XML, XSL, Docbook, LaTeX and so on but (a) is broken and (b) that’s a PITA for most people. It would be nice if all journals supplied something like standard XSL that you could use, but they don’t and who wants to define their own? Refbase currently includes a small number of journal styles that are hard-coded in PHP.
So I thought – in a web-based application, couldn’t you design a form that allows the user to define style? There are lots of styles, but a finite number of elements. Text may be bold or italic. Author separators may be commas, semi-colons, with or without ‘and’ for last name. Author names may be full or initials. Article titles may or may not be included. And so on. It shouldn’t be too hard to analyse some journals, figure out all the combinations and let a user specify these in a form, then apply them to the reference list.