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As I write, edit, and review my document, I'd like to flag how related a claim and the supporting citation are. For example, if a reference Foo speculates on a topic (and therefore I give it a low confidence), and reference Bar goes in depth and proves another topic (earning high), I would like the (draft) document to reflect this.

I'm seeking suggestions how to implement this both from the editing and display sides.

For editing, I could picture doing this in a custom cite command:

As shown by \cite{Foo:1942}{lo} and others \citep{Bar:1924}{hi}, blah blah.

Or outside with a custom command (again using {lo,mid,hi} or {1,2,...,10}):

As shown by \cite{Foo:1942}\conf{3} and others \citep{Bar:1924}\conf{10}, blah blah.

For rendering, it could be simple:

As shown by Foo (1942) {lo} and others [Bar, 1924]{hi}, blah blah.

But I could also picture a more involved macro such that things rated hi, 9, or 10 do not display at all, and things are more noticeable as the rating decreases (using red or bold font for 1, 2, 3, or lo confidence ratings). The rating could follow the citation (as shown above) if using a separate command, or if using a custom cite command, the rating could influence the display of the citation itself.

Any suggestions on existing packages, or implementation suggestions, would be much appreciated. I know enough LaTeX to create a simple \conf{} command that implements a basic version, and perhaps that is enough, but I thought I would seek community input on the idea and implementation.

share|improve this question
Surely \newcommand\conf[1]{\textbf{#1}} and then a \ifdraft{\let\conf\relax}{} would be a basic solution? – Seamus Dec 31 '10 at 19:00
@Seamus: Shouldn't it be something like \ifdraft{}{\renewcommand\conf[1]{}}? – Hendrik Vogt Jan 1 '11 at 8:43
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think the interface I would look for would be an optional key to the \cite suite of commands. Something like \cite[confidence=low]{Foo:1942} or \citep[confidence=10]{Bar:1924}. Then if it were omitted behavior would default to the unenhanced \cite.

For implementation try the xkeyval package. There are others which do this kind of thing (also pgfkeys), but this one is pretty good. The wrinkle is that \cite already takes an optional argument, so care has to be taken to get that passed to the original command.

The biggest remaining question to me would be the rendering of these fuzzy references. I don't think you want to change the font weight or color—that might just emphasize it. What about decorating the reference with a certain number of tildes, with more tildes meaning lower confidence? (Tildes are used in physics derivations to indicate vague identity.)

share|improve this answer
Agreed this interface seems ideal. As for rendering, emphasis could be good ("This claim needs a better citation"), or deemphasis could be used, so that claims with weak citations appear to have no citation. Simpler might be what you suggest: tildes or asterisks, etc. – mankoff Dec 31 '10 at 22:18
After writing I realized this was something you wanted mainly for the draft copy, so if you do want to draw attention to fuzzy references go ahead. – Matthew Leingang Jan 1 '11 at 0:21

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