Re: [Rd] R package BibTex entries: looking for a more general solution

From: Kurt Hornik <>
Date: Wed, 03 Nov 2010 20:38:38 +0100

>>>>> Michael Friendly writes:

Thanks for the suggestions. In fact, we are currently working on this issue. A lot of improvements have already been done, see ?person and ?bibentry for R 2.12.0 or later, especially the details and examples sections. Some more work still needs to be done, though. We will write a primer that introduces the new features when all of them are available.


> == Summary ==
> * Problem: BibTeX entries extracted from R packages via citation()
> require too much manual editing to be
> of general use.
> * Proposal: Date: fields should be made mandatory in package DESCRIPTION
> files, perhaps
> beginning with warnings from R CMD check
> * Proposal: Package authors should be encouraged to use a (new)
> Contributors: field in the DESCRIPTION file
> rather than packing all information into the Author: field, which at
> present cannot often be parsed by BibTeX.
> * Files: All test files referred to here can be found at


> == Details ==
> Around 16 Dec. 2009, I queried R-help about automating the extraction of
> citation()s from R packages. The stimulus
> was that some journals, notably JSS, now require a reference and
> citation of every R package mentioned,
> and it is a pain to create these manually, no less maintain them for
> current versions.

> The result of that query was a function, Rpackage.bibs() by Achim
> Zeileis that I have been using ever since.
> Code in:
> On one current system I get the following:

>> Rpackage.bibs(file="Rpackages-R.2.11.1.bib")

> Converted 230 of 230 package citations to BibTex
> Results written to file Rpackages-R.2.11.1.bib
> Warning messages:
> 1: In citation(x) :
> no date field in DESCRIPTION file of package 'codetools'
> 2: In citation(x) :
> no date field in DESCRIPTION file of package 'gridBase'
> 3: In citation(x) : no date field in DESCRIPTION file of package 'iplots'

> See:
> for the result of processing this .bib file with latex/bibtex using the
> jss.bst bibliography style

> I'm writing to R-Devel because the DESCRIPTION and inst/CITATION files
> in R packages provide the
> basic data used in citation() and any methods based on this, and yet the
> information in these files is
> often insufficient to generate well-formed BibTeX entries for use in
> vignettes and publications.

> One easy case is illustrated above, where 3 packages have no Date: field
> so the BibTeX gets no
> year = {},
> and references get printed as Murrell, P (????) for gridBase. (In my
> original test under R 2.9.1, there where
> ~ 20 such warnings.) Thus, I propose that Date: be a required field in
> DESCRIPTION files, and
> R CMD check complain if this is not found.

> The more difficult case has to do with the Author: field in the
> DESCRIPTION file (when no CITATION file is present)
> People can write whatever they want here, and the result looks sort of
> OK when printed by citation(), but confuses
> BibTeX mightly. One example:

>> citation("akima")
> To cite package ‘akima’ in publications use:

> Fortran code by H. Akima R port by Albrecht Gebhardt aspline function
> by Thomas Petzoldt <> enhancements and
> corrections by Martin Maechler (2009). akima: Interpolation of
> irregularly spaced data. R package version 0.5-4.

> A BibTeX entry for LaTeX users is

> @Manual{,
> title = {akima: Interpolation of irregularly spaced data},
> author = {Fortran code by H. Akima R port by Albrecht Gebhardt aspline
> function by Thomas Petzoldt <>
> enhancements and corrections by Martin Maechler},
> year = {2009},
> note = {R package version 0.5-4},
> url = {},
> }

> ATTENTION: This citation information has been auto-generated from the
> package DESCRIPTION file and may need manual editing, see
> ‘help("citation")’ .

> Yes, the ATTENTION note does say that manual editing may be necessary,
> but I think a worthy goal would be
> to try to reduce the need for this.

> One simple way to do that would be to support an extra Contributions:
> field in the DESCRIPTION file,
> so that Authors: can be more cleanly separated for the purpose of
> creating well-structured BibTeX.
> Perhaps others have better ideas.

> -Michael

> --
> Michael Friendly Email: friendly AT yorku DOT ca
> Professor, Psychology Dept.
> York University Voice: 416 736-5115 x66249 Fax: 416 736-5814
> 4700 Keele Street Web:
> Toronto, ONT M3J 1P3 CANADA

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> mailing list Received on Wed 03 Nov 2010 - 19:41:04 GMT

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