How to cite Chinese sources in Chicago style

May 6, 2010, [MD]

I am always interested in improving my academic "workflow", new neat tools that can help me keep track of all my notes, PDFs, drafts, citations, etc. I useDevonThink to keep most of my PDFs, and a lot of web pages, as well as most of my research notes. I then transfer these over to Scrivener for the actual writing. Scrivener is an absolutely amazing product, that has really changed the way I write – and all the friends I've shown it to, have begun using it as well. I could never imagine going back to unwieldy Word.

The one thing I've been holding back on, is a reference manager. I went through a spell during my BA Honors thesis, when I downloaded and tried a whole raft of programs, but I could never find one that suited my style and wasn't slowing me down during my writing. So the whole thing was done by hand, which worked – although when I later split it into two articles, both needing just a subset of the citations, and in different formats, it was a real pain.

Currently, I am just starting on the writing phase for my MA thesis (I've been doing the research for the last two years), and I thought it would be worth checking again. I had looked at Bookends before, but maybe it's because it has improved since last time, or that I had a better idea of my needs – this time I felt I could really use it. So I bought a license, and began reading the manual and looking at how I could integrate it with my workflow.

One of my big issues last time I investigated these programs, was that I felt that they put me in a strait-jacket with their definitions of publication types. I want to register this as a newspaper article – but I also want to specify the URL where I found it. In Bookends, you can add and modify all the built-in publication types, and even create your own, so you could add a URL field to the "newspaper" type.

I have also been struggling with how to deal with citations in foreign languages, and specifically Chinese. My thesis is about higher education in China, and I will be citing many Chinese journal articles and reports. It has always annoyed me how most books about China only use transliterated (pinyin) Chinese in their citations, telling you that Li, X. (2010) wrote a paper about "Shuini de fazhan" in "Xiandai Shuini Zazhi". Often you can fairly easily guess what characters the pinyin represent, but not always. And with a truncated author name like Li, X., it would be almost impossible to find other articles by the same author.

So I was wondering if the big citation styles, APA and Chicago, etc, had said anything about including Chinese characters into the bibliography. At that time, I asked several people, and even sent an e-mail to the Asia library, but found no answer, or mention of it. Today, I stumbled over a passage in the Chicago Style handbook, which I will paste here (since it's behind a paywall):

10.108: Inclusion of original characters

Chinese and Japanese characters, immediately following the romanized version of the item they represent, are sometimes necessary to help readers identify references cited or terms used. They are largely confined to bibliographies and glossaries. Where needed in running text, they may be enclosed in parentheses. Computer technology has made it much easier than it used to be to typeset words in non-Latin alphabets.

Hua Linfu 華林甫, “Qingdai yilai Sanxia diqu shuihan zaihai de chubu yanjiu” 清代以來三峽地區水旱災害的初步硏究 [A preliminary study of floods and droughts in the Three Gorges region since the Qing dynasty], Zhongguo shehui kexue 中國社會科學 1 (1999): 168–79 . . .

Harry Harootunian and Sakai Naoki, “Nihon kenkyū to bunka kenkyū 日本研究と文化研究, Shisō 思想 7 (July 1997): 4–53. That year the first assembly of the national Diet was held and the Imperial Rescript on Education (kyōiku chokugo 敎育勅語) issued.

So they do allow you to do this! Assuming that my graduate school accepts Chicago Style, I now have a legitimate way of doing this in my MA thesis.

And since Bookends is so flexible, I was able to clone the Chicago B style, insert a few custom types, and register this information whenever I type in new citations. Changing the output format, I was able to generate a citation that looks exactly like the format above. However, if I should ever be submitting to a journal that doesn't like this format, it's done in a few seconds to switch the entire bibliography to another format.

Brilliant. I also like how Bookends let's you insert simple "temporary references", either auto-generated or handwritten by you, such as {Boyle, 1980}. These are just plain text, and work well in Scrivener, travels well from one editing software to another etc, and when you are finally done, you can just run the file through Bookends to have it all expanded and formatted. Very clean and nice, compared to some of the solutions that integrate deep within OpenOffice or Word, which I have had poor experiences with.

So now I just have to sit down and write this thesis...

Stian Håklev May 6, 2010 Toronto, Canada
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