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In a paper, there can be a few authors whose work is cited very often in the document. If the names are a bit long, then I noticed that some papers use an abbreviation, citing it once in full(e.g. Percival & Walden 1993) and then they say "PW1993" thereafter or maybe some other format.

Is this abbreviation allowed and if yes, what is the standard way to write this abbreviation?

Are there any conventions for writing short forms for other long words used very frequently in the journal articles?

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Not really TeX related...I'd vote to close if I could. – Yossi Farjoun Nov 22 '10 at 12:25
up vote 6 down vote accepted

You are allowed to do whatever you like if you are not working to a particular style, the issue is whether your readers will be happy following you: the key is that looking up the citation in the reference list should be unproblematic.

The two citation keys you give: "Percival & Walden 1993" and "PW1993" are from two different citation styles and I've not seen them be used together: I think there is a risk of confusion. The short form alone works well enough, and you could consider using that, although it is less flexible than the longer form, that allows discussion of the author at the point of citation, e.g., In the study of Percival & Walden (1993), 140 subjects were ... A point about author-date: do ensure that the author and date occur together in the reference list; it makes life needlessly difficult for the reader if the date is buried somewhere in the heart of the reference entry.

If you really care about space, consider numerical referencing, where citations are just numbers in order of appearance. It's used in journals like Nature and Science that are very economical on space. It's not very friendly to readers when the reference list gets long, though, and the trend generally seems to be towards longer citation keys.

In the humanities, note-based referencing is the rule, where the full citation is given —perhaps as a footnote, perhaps with additional material about the citation such as a short quote— and then later citations will be in short form, consister of the author(s)' surname and no more than three words from the title identifying the work. So this, often called author-title referencing, is an example of a citation style that does shorten subsequent citations, but it is still less economical than the author-date system.

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The "key" and authoryear citation styles can occur together when keys are used for documents without an obvious author, e.g. technical specification documents... – Seamus Nov 22 '10 at 11:29
@Seamus: It's most common to have the "author" be the institution responsible in this case, e.g., World Health Organization. Sometimes, like you say, in engineering texts where citing lots of numbered reports are common, certain references are treated differently, but here I've still not seen a different citation key used on first occurrence than later occurrences. – Charles Stewart Nov 22 '10 at 13:46
Thank you for information about note based referencing. There seems to be an implicit understanding of these matters. What is the way to find out about them? (apart from asking on some forum). The concern is that once the referencing is done, it may be tedious to change it if someone raises an objection to the citation method and which has not been pointed out earlier. Also, it is better to know the the correct way of referencing and related work while writing itself, in particular for a thesis. – Anusha Nov 23 '10 at 12:28
@Anusha: Look at what the papers you cite do, and ask your colleagues. Universities and journals will have instructions on how to prepare manuscripts. Most academic disciplines are dominated by one particular style guide: find out what it is. What is your subject area? – Charles Stewart Nov 24 '10 at 10:44
@Charles: I am presently working in the area of Economics. – Anusha Nov 24 '10 at 14:14

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