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Often, when working with online resources and online databases, you get statements such as the following:

When refering to the site in publications please cite the following references:

AJG Simoes, CA Hidalgo. The Economic Complexity Observatory: An Analytical Tool for Understanding the Dynamics of Economic Development. Workshops at the Twenty-Fifth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence. (2011)

I'd like to honour these requests (of course) but using biblatex (with biber backend) seems to make this a bit difficult.

Is there an easy way to just copy/paste the requested citation "as is" into my .bib file?

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    Well perhaps it would be possible. But it imho goes really against the spirit of biblatex/biber and you would get a inconsistent bibliography. It is your bibstyle which should decide if the names are last-first or first-last, if there is an "and" between the names, and where the year is in the entry etc. – Ulrike Fischer Aug 25 '15 at 12:26
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    Possibly one for the academia site in a sense: I tend to interpret those statements as giving me an idea of how to complete a bibliographic record rather than an absolute citation format. As @UlrikeFischer observes, the above could be badly inconsistent with a general bibliography style. – Joseph Wright Aug 25 '15 at 12:28
  • @JosephWright so I suppose people use these as a launchpad for their own .bib entries? Makes sense... – LondonRob Aug 25 '15 at 12:30
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    Maybe it is better to see this as a guideline of what information the authors would like to see in the bibliography. (I would think it ridiculous to let the position of the year field in the bibliography be dictated by the authors of a work I cite). If you insist on going down the "print citations exactly as in 'please cite'" route, you are probable better off doing that manually, but be prepared to have a terribly inconsistent bibliography. – moewe Aug 25 '15 at 12:30
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    I (like other commenters) would treat this as advice. In this case there are a couple of things worth noting: in "AAAI conference" the initialism isn't spelt out. The colon refers to a "Title: Bit more title" approach rather than "Title: subtitle" in which the subtitle might be omitted. Also the conference year is the publication year, the upload date may be in a different year. – Chris H Aug 25 '15 at 15:46
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There are two ways you can read the 'please cite as'

  1. Literally
  2. As a helpful guide

You can read this 'please cite as advice' literally and try to cite sources exactly as specified there. But that can quickly lead to highly inconsistent bibliographies if you obtain the 'please cite's from different sources.

Just imagine a case where one 'please cite as' gives names in the format 'Anne Uthor', another in 'A. Uthor' and a third one as 'Uthor, A.'. Imagine further that one advice says to place the year after the authors and another one places it at the end. The advices may very well differ in the way they format titles and volume numbers of journals.

Uthor, Anne (1990): A Book of Many Words. London: Publisher.

A Uthor, WR Iter. A Second Book of Some Words. Publisher, London 2010.

I have never seen a citation style guide that has not in some way pointed out the importance of consistency in the bibliography. You would be prone to have to give up consistency immediately if a different 'please cite as' comes along.

Since biblatex and Biber (and BibTeX) were made to enable you to have a consistent bibliography that allows for changes in styles, you will find that they are probably not the right tool if you want to take the literal approach to honouring 'please cite as'. You could theoretically use them to manage your bibliography. That would involve formatting the output as in the 'please cite as' yourself (in a single field bibdata, say) and creating a new biblatex style that prints only the bibdata field. This only gives the slight advantage over a manual thebibliography that you can use BIber/BibTeX for sorting (you probably need to use a special field to indicate sort-order) and to retrieve only the works cited from a file. (My answer to How to set up BibLaTeX for use with 'freeform' citations shows roughly how that could work.)


I suggest, however, that you take the 'please cite as' advice not literally, but rather as guidance of what information your bibliography should contain when you cite this particular reference. You are free to arrange the info in a way you see fit (or the style you have to follow dictates), but you are not bound to the exact output of the 'please cite as' example. That then allows you to use biblatex as usual.

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