Re: [Rd] Citation of R packages

From: John Maindonald <>
Date: Fri 10 Feb 2006 - 10:01:44 GMT

On 5 Feb 2006, at 2:27 AM, wrote:

>>>>>> On Mon, 30 Jan 2006 10:06:52 +1100 (EST),
>>>>>> John Maindonald (JM) wrote:
>> The bibtex citations provided by citation() do not
>> work all that well in cases where there is no printed
>> document to reference:
> That's why there is a warning at the end that they will need manual
> editing ... IMHO they at least save you some typing effort in many
> cases.

They are certainly a useful start.

>> (1) A version field is needed, as the note field is
>> required for other purposes, currently trying to
>> sort out nuances that cannot be sorted out in the
>> author list (author, compiler, implementor of R version,
>> contributor, ...) and maybe giving a cross-reference
>> to a book or paper that is somehow relevant.
> Why should a reference cross-reference another reference? Could you
> give an example?

Where there is a published paper or a book (such as MASS), or a manual for which a url can be given, my decision was to include that in the main
list of references, but not to include references there that were
to the package itself, which as you suggest below can be a reference to the concatenated help pages.

It seemed anyway useful to have a separate list of packages. For consistency, these were always references to the package, with a cross-reference to any relevant document in the references to papers.

>> (2) Maybe the author field should be more nuanced, or
>> maybe ...
> author fields of bibtex entries have a strict format (names separated
> by "and"), what do you mean by "more nuanced"?

Those named in the list of authors may be any combination of: the authors
of an R package, the authors of an original S version, the person or persons
responsible for an R port, the authors of the Fortran code, compiler
(s), and
contributors of ideas.

For John Fox's car, citation() gives the following:

     author = {John Fox. I am grateful to Douglas Bates and David Firth and Michael Friendly and Gregor Gorjanc and Georges Monette and Henric Nilsson and Brian Ripley and Sanford Weisberg and and Achim Zeleis for various suggestions and contributions.},

For Rcmdr:

     author = {John Fox and with contributions from Michael Ash and Philippe Grosjean and Martin Maechler and Dan Putler and and Peter Wolf.},

For car, maybe John Fox should be identified as author. For Rcmdr, maybe the other persons that are named should be added?

For leaps:

     author = {Thomas Lumley using Fortran code by Alan Miller},

It seems reasonable to cite Lumley and Miller as authors. Should there be a note that identifies Miller as the contributor of the Fortran code?

Should the name(s) of porters (usually from S) be included as author (s)? Or should their contribution be acknowledged in the note field? Or ...

Possibilities are to cite all those individuals as author, or to cite John Fox only,
with any combination of no additional information in the note field, or using the
note field to explain who did what. The citation() function leaves
it unclear who
are to be acknowledged as authors, and in fact

>> (3) In compiling a list of packages, name order seems
>> preferable, and one wants the title first (achieved by
>> relocating the format.title field in the manual FUNCTION
>> in the .bst file
>> (4) manual seems not an ideal name for the class, if
>> there is no manual.
> A package always has a "reference manual", the concatenated help pages
> certainly qualify as such and can be downloaded in PDF format from
> CRAN. The ISBN rules even allow to assign an ISBN number to the online
> help of a software package which also can serve as the ISBN number of
> the *software itself* (which we did for base R).

I'd prefer some consistency in the way that R packages are referenced. Thus, if reference for one package is to the concatenated help pages, do it that way for all of them.

>> Maybe what is needed is a package or suchlike class,
>> and several alternative .bst files that handle the needed
>> listings.
>> I know at least one other person who is wrestling with
>> this, and others on this list must be wrestling with it.
> I am certainly open for discussions and any suggestions for
> improvements, but it must be within the standard bibtex entry types,
> we cannot write our own entry types and .bst files. Many journals
> require the usage of their own (or standard) bibtex styles, and the
> entries we produce must work with those. If R creates nonstandard
> bibtex entries even more manual work will be necessary in many
> cases.
> I have no definitive bibtex reference at hand, but the natbib style
> files (a very popular collection of bibtex styles, at least I
> definitely want to be compatible with those) define
> article
> book
> booklet
> conference (= alias for inproceedings)
> inbook
> incollection
> inproceedings
> manual
> mastersthesis
> misc
> phdthesis
> proceedings
> techreport
> unpublished
> which coincide with the choices the emacs bibtex mode offers. Out of
> these only "manual", "misc" and "unpublished" seem appropriate for
> packages, and the description suggests to use manual for citing
> software manuals, but the definitions of those three are very similar
> anyway.
> Maybe you could give an example what your candidate for a bibtex entry
> for packages should look like?

It will depend on context. The requirement for a paper will be different
from that for a book.

Here's what I've done for boot:


     title = {boot: Bootstrap R (S-Plus) Functions (Canty)},
     author = "{\noopsort{boot}}{Canty, A. and Ripley, B.}",
     key  = {boot},
     year = {2005},
     note = {(Version 1.2-24). S original by A.~Canty; R port by  
See further \citet{Canty}}


Maybe I should either omit the version number or include it along with the title.


> Best,
> Fritz
> --
> -------------------------------------------------------------------
> Friedrich Leisch
> Institut für Statistik Tel: (+43 1) 58801 10715
> Technische Universität Wien Fax: (+43 1) 58801 10798
> Wiedner Hauptstraße 8-10/1071
> A-1040 Wien, Austria
> -------------------------------------------------------------------

John Maindonald email: phone : +61 2 (6125)3473 fax : +61 2(6125)5549 Mathematical Sciences Institute, Room 1194, John Dedman Mathematical Sciences Building (Building 27) Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200. mailing list Received on Fri Feb 10 21:04:09 2006

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