Bibliography online

One of the difficulties of any long-running project is keeping track of everything. In a dictionary project, as in any research project, among the most important things to keep track of are the details of the sources used; this is what allows anyone to verify our work. In principle this recording of sources should be easy – a straightforward index of texts read, added to as new sources are added etc., perhaps kept as a card catalogue or its electronic counterpart, the database.

However, the DMLBS project is presented with a further problem, of keeping track of sources not only for itself but also for the Dictionary’s users, who need to know what those sources are. We have hundreds of thousands of quotations with citations in the Dictionary, and so we need to abbreviate these references in print; accordingly, we also need to make sure our users can ‘decode’ the abbreviations to identify the sources being referred to.

There is no easy solution to ensuring that our users can always identify what we mean by a reference, especially when it comes to any changes needed to the set of references we use that are occasioned by new texts etc. arising after the publication of our bibliography.

We have in fact updated our list twice, in different ways, in the history of the published DMLBS. The preliminary list published with the first fascicule was superseded by a wholesale revision of the bibliography, published with Fascicule III. This was then supplemented with a list of changes and amendments in Fascicule VI. There is, however, as yet no consolidated list available in print.

Since the start we have striven to balance our desire to take account of additional material (whether texts or editions) in preparing the dictionary with the need not to be obscure to the dictionary’s users about what texts and editions are being quoted. We have, for instance, given full references in the dictionary text (or fuller ones than we would have done if the text or edition had been listed in our published bibliography). This is not a practice we have any plans to change at this stage: the printed dictionary must remain as it has been throughout its publication career, intended to be self-contained, such that every reference in the printed text has already been explained in some form in the lists of references already published.

We are, however, becoming aware of a few instances where this has regrettably not happened: keeping track has not been as simple as it might seem, especially with an evolving bibliography of many thousands of items that we quote regularly and have been using for nearly half a century. Now that the team is able to access the whole of our published text electronically, we can detect the few absences and inconsistencies far more easily than ever before.

In view of this and since the project now has an electronic version of its bibliography for our own internal use by the editorial staff, bringing together the bibliography printed in Fasc. III and the changes to be made listed in Fasc. VI, and which also includes more recent information currently being used by the editorial staff who are preparing the final fascicules, it is an apt time to make a version of this working text available for reference on the project website, by kind permission of the British Academy (which holds the copyright). We hope that, though not necessary for making use of the Dictionary, nonetheless this consolidated and updated list will prove useful to its users and we intend to release periodic updates to it as work on the final fascicules continues.

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