[Bell Historians] Citations for Ringing World references

Carl S Zimmerman csz_stl at 2oY7lfq77_seDo2HG3gW9laKjaEvMYPbOqFhEhADH9epCcSCqDRYEZxq2KUVfymdtZTiGP9K97jt.yahoo.invalid
Mon Nov 6 15:01:56 GMT 2006

Chris has raised a very good question.  It would be interesting to 
have a professional bibliographer's answer, because the RW's practice 
of using a single continuous sequence of issue numbers is certainly 
less common than the practice of using volume and issue numbers.  I'm 
certain that a bibliographer would require page number; as to the 
other details, I can only offer my own analysis.

Issue number and issue date are each sufficient to find a particular 
issue.  Therefore, using both together is redundant.  However, 
redundancy has its uses.  For one thing, it serves as a cross-check 
against typographic errors - the number and date should agree with 
each other.  For another, it allows the user to determine which form 
of issue specification to use - the number may stick in the mind 
easier than the date, or vice versa.

Because page numbering is continuous throughout the year, it is also 
sufficient to specify year and page number to find a particular 

With an issue specification but without a page number, finding a 
reference is tedious, but not unbearably so.  Issues are not large 
(28 pages is unusual), and the nature of the reference (peal, quarter 
peal, letter, article) makes it easy to limit the line-by-line search 
to just a few pages within the issue.  Thus page number, though 
valuable, is not absolutely necessary.

With a year+page specification but without an issue identification, 
finding a reference is easy if one is dealing with issues which have 
been bound into volumes by year, because the pagination is continuous 
throughout the year.  But it's difficult if one is dealing with loose 
issues, because the front cover of an issue never carries a page 

Finding a reference from an issue number without the date or page can 
be difficult when dealing with bound volumes, as Chris showed. 
Standard practice for a library bindery would be for the volume label 
(on the spine) to include not only the year but also the range of 
issues (since there is no volume number).  But a private bindery 
might not do this unless the customer specified it.  So think of this 
the next time you take a year's worth of RW to your local bookbinder!

 From a database viewpoint, an entirely different criterion arises. 
As on the Felstead cards, or in the pNBR, one wants to minimize the 
size of each reference.  Partly this is to save storage space and 
processing time (though that's much less important in recent years 
than in the early days of computers).  More importantly, the less 
data you have to write or type, the less risk there is that you will 
make an error.

Finally, there is the consideration that having at least the year in 
the citation makes it easy to compare the ages of references to 
different sources.

With all these concerns in mind, my own preference in recording 
references is to use issue(year)page, thus:  "RW#4978(2006)p924".  If 
later I were to use this reference in a letter or article, I would 
first verify it against the original and then write it as "The 
Ringing World, September 22, 2006, p.924".  This expanded format also 
identifies issue, year and page.

Still, I would like to see a professional bibliographer's answer to 
Chris's question.



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