Style Request: Oscola

  • Can I ask how one can distinguish in OSCOLA between reports that need square brackets (where it is the year that is more important than the volume) and round brackets (where it is the volume that is more important than the year)?
  • edited November 11, 2013
    11. Steven Pinker, How the Mind Works (W.W. Norton 2009) p 4.
    not sure what you mean here - the W.W. is in the data, that has nothing to do with the style.
    Can I ask how one can distinguish in OSCOLA between reports that need square brackets
    well, not fully. MLZ deals with that in the "year-as-volume" specification, which we don't have. Look at the case examples in the data entry.
    The basic way this works is:
    - If a case has a court and a docket number --> square bracket
    - Else if volume --> parentheses
    - Else do not include a date decided, but but the date in square brackets into the reporter volume field

    I'm sorry it's such a mess, but same as above - since we don't have the variables and data structure to fully deal with law this was always going to be hackish. That's why the samples for data entry are crucial.
  • edited November 11, 2013
    Thanks for the response: Re the 'W. W.' - is there any way of stripping out the full stops / abbreviations as they are not supposed to be there for OSCOLA (whereas they might be recommended for another style)?
  • we can strip periods, but not spaces. So W.W. would become WW and W. W. --> W W. I can implement that.
    Which fields apart from publisher would be important?
  • I am not sure which fields to pay particular attention to. This is what OSCOLA says regarding periods / full stops. As little punctuation as possible:

    1.3 Punctuation, ranges of numbers and years, and foreign words
    1.3.1 Punctuation
    OSCOLA uses as little punctuation as possible . Abbreviations and initials in author’s
    names do not take full stops . For example, Appeal Cases is cited as ‘AC’ and the
    Director of Public Prosecutions is abbreviated to ‘DPP’ . Insert commas to separate
    items that may otherwise run together and cause confusion, such as runs of numbers
    or authors and titles .

    Malcolm v DPP [2007] EWHC 363 (Admin), [2007] 1 WLR 1230
    JG Fleming, ‘Remoteness and Duty: The Control Devices in Liability for
    Negligence’ (1953) 31 Can Bar Rev 471

    When citing authorities from other jurisdictions, do not include full stops in the

    1.3.3 Foreign words
    In the text, italicize foreign words and phrases, but not quotations. Provide a
    translation immediately afterwards in brackets, or in a footnote, if required . Do
    not italicize words that are in common usage in legal English, such as ultra vires,
    stare decisis, obiter dicta, ratio decidendi, a priori and a fortiori. Commonly used
    abbreviations, such as ie and eg, are not italicized and have no full stops

    1.4 Citing foreign materials
    When referring to foreign materials, cite primary sources as in their home
    jurisdiction, with the exception that full stops in abbreviations should be dropped.
    Guides for other jurisdictions can be found in section 4.3 of the appendix. Cite
    secondary sources in accordance with the OSCOLA rules governing the citation of
    secondary sources
  • I'll implement it pretty widely then. Will wait some time to gather up some issues, though.
  • Thanks for these changes so far - enormously helpful!

    However, somewhere along the way the changes have affected my ability to save citations directly from the Oxford library catalogue, Solo (see here )

    I used to be able to click the Zotero icon in my browser and the data would populate immediately in my chosen library in my Zotero client. I can still do this for articles I find online and books through other catalogues, such as Amazon or whatever, but for some reason this doesn't seem to be working for the Oxford library system. Any help much appreciated.
  • Oby
    edited November 12, 2013
    Saving of bibliographic information has nothing to do with styles. What has probably happened in your case is that the Oxford library catalog has changed, or that the translator for that site has a bug.

    If you want it fixed, I suggest you create a separate thread in the "Site translators" forum.
  • @natashasimonsen: the ability to save citations from SOLO is a problem that predated this version of OSCOLA. I have been suffering from it too, so if you would report it, that would be excellent.
  • I have noticed an issue that I am not sure how to address. OSCOLA requires citations to be separated by a semicolon, however there are occasions when one is supposed to put in a full stop, eg, where one writes 'see also'. Is there any way of handling this.


    x. Pierre Simon marq de Laplace, A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities (Frederick Wilson Truscott and FI Emory trs, 1st edn, New York &c 1902) 4; See also Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Practical Reason (Indo-European Publishing 2011)76.

    Should be:

    x. Pierre Simon marq de Laplace, A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities (Frederick Wilson Truscott and FI Emory trs, 1st edn, New York &c 1902)4. See also Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Practical Reason (Indo-European Publishing 2011) 76.
  • @paultroop
    The way to handle this is to put two separate citations in your footnote. Insert the first footnote, and the immediately after press the spacebar and type "See also" and then insert a new citation by pressing the button on the Zotero toolbar.

    For me the commas before and after the supra cite (n X) are still appearing after updating the style and refreshing the document. Did you fix that, or was my previous post regarding this overlooked?
  • Oby
    edited November 12, 2013
    Another thing I am unsure of is whether it is wise to include the closing period in the Zotero-generated citations. At least in one instance this will be problematic, namely when I want to use other fields in a footnote.

    An example footnote (square brackets indicate the Zotero field):
    "[See Mulgan, ‘Accountability’, (n 4), 555 quoted in section] 2.3 above."

    The text (2.3 above) after the Zotero field is also a field, namely a reference to a heading in my document. Since it is not possible to use field references in the "prefix" and "suffix" of a Zotero, I have always been doing my citations like this. But when the new OSCOLA now automatically adds a period at the end of the citation, such "hacks" become impossible.

    Any chance that you could remove the automatic period from the style? Or is there any way I can work around or suppress it without modifying the style to take out the period?
  • Re SOLO - yes, please do report that in a separate thread, including an exact search path. I have this working and I did fix Zotero's Solo import with the help of Oxford library staff at the beginning of the semester.

    Re Periods: For Paul's problem what Oby says. For periods generally, there is really no decent solution. There is no way to suppress periods per citation, no. It's not hard to remove periods from the style, but since all footnote styles currently include periods (for good reasons, btw.) I won't do this. It's very easy to customize, though.

    Re Supra notes: yep, I didn't see that. Will include it in the next update, thanks for the reminder.
  • edited November 12, 2013
    Re the earlier issue of subsequent author names in the bibliography being replaced by an em dash, it seems that Sebastian's update has been picked up by my Zotero as many have now been replaced by em dashes. However, and strangely, there are some exceptions as follows:

    Posner RA, ‘The Decline of Law as an Autonomous Discipline: 1962-1987’ (1987) 100 Harvard Law Review 761
    Posner RA, Overcoming Law (Harvard University Press 1995)
    Posner RA, Economic Analysis of Law (7th ed.., Aspen Publishers 2007)


    Leiter B, ‘Rethinking Legal Realism: Toward a Naturalized Jurisprudence’ (1997) 76 Texas Law Review 267
    ——, ‘Legal Realism’ in Dennis Patterson (ed), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory (Blackwell Publishers 1999)
    ——, ‘Legal Realism and Legal Positivism Reconsidered’ (2001) 111 Ethics 278
    ——, ‘Postscript to Part I: Interpreting Legal Realism’, Naturalizing Jurisprudence (Oxford University Press 2007)
  • Zotero is picky. Make sure Posner is entered exactly the same way for the different items.
    Richard A
    Richard A.
    R. A.
    are all interpreted as different authors.
  • The following (n.)s do not seem to have been picked up for some reason:

    59. Daniel Dennett, ‘Intentional Systems Theory’ in Ansgar Beckermann, Brian P McLaughlin and Sven Walter (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind (Oxford University Press 2009) para 19.1.

    60. Daniel Dennett, ‘Intentional Systems Theory’ in Ansgar Beckermann, Brian P McLaughlin and Sven Walter (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind (Oxford University Press 2009) paras. 19.1, 19.2, and 19.5; Dennett, The Intentional Stance, 22; Roderick M Chisholm, ‘Sentences About Believing’ (1955) 56 Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 125, 131–32; Steven Pinker, How the Mind Works (W.W. Norton 2009) p 78.

    Similarly the following (n.)s are a bit wacky:

    54. Daniel C Dennett, The Intentional Stance (MIT Press 1993) p 16; Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (New Ed with additions, Black Swan 2007) p 211.
    55. Pierre Simon marq de Laplace, A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities (Frederick Wilson Truscott and FI Emory trs, 1st edn, New York &c 1902)4; See also Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Practical Reason (Indo-European Publishing 2011)76.
    56. Dennett, The Intentional Stance, p 23.
    57. Daniel C Dennett, The Intentional Stance (MIT Press 1993).
    58. Dennett, The Intentional Stance, (n 1), 17.
  • How confident are you that there is only one version of the item?
    This is nothing the style would do. It's certainly possible it's a processor bug, in which case this should be taken to a different thread, but the initial diagnosis would be that there are just two versions of the same item in your library.
    How do those same footnotes look if you switch to Chicago Manual (full note)?
  • I am certain that there is only one version of the item. It may be that it is something to do with the ODF scan that I am using, but the original sources are all identical, ie:

    e purposes of this thesis.{ | Dennett, (1993) |p 16| |zotero://select/items/0_NI9PUPSH}{ | Dawkins, 2007 |p 211| | zotero://select/items/0_HJ3UWXT3} This idea has long been recognised. Laplace, for example, conceived of an intelligence able to comprehend the state of the universe and all the forces of nature for whom ‘nothing would be uncertain and the future, as the past, would be present to its eyes.'{ | Laplace, 1902 | |4| zotero://select/items/0_NJ2KU5NF}{See also | Kant, 2011 | |76| zotero://select/items/0_B9E6ZB6S} A Laplacean omniscient physicist could predict the behaviour of an individual to perfection.{ | Dennett, (1993) |p 23| |zotero://select/items/0_NI9PUPSH}

    s fit into. He distinguishes between the intentional stance and the physical stance.{ | Dennett, (1993) | | |zotero://select/items/0_NI9PUPSH}

    instances yield a decision about what the agent ought to do; that is what you predict the agent will do.’{ | Dennett, (1993) |p. 17| |zotero://select/items/0_NI9PUPSH}
  • A further issue with Zotero's case citations in the OSCOLA style - I am not sure whether this is an issue with site translation or style (thanks for the earlier tip @Oby, and I've posted the request for SOLO on the site translator forum @paultroop) but when I save a case from into my Zotero library it comes out all wrong.

    Eg this case

    Comes up as VINTER AND OTHERS v THE UNITED KINGDOM - 66069/09 130/10 3896/10 - Grand Chamber Judgment [2013] ECHR 645 (Unreported, ECHR (2013), 9 July 2013) (ECHR (2013))

    when it should be simply
    Vinter and Ors v UK [2013] ECHR 645 (GC)

    in the Oscola style.
  • I think that Zotero seems to regard the medium neutral citation as an indication that a judgment is unreported... this is not normally the case.

    See, eg,
    Uttley, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2004] UKHL 38 (Unreported, UKHL (2004), 30 July 2004) (UKHL (2004))
  • Natasha - I can have a look at this, but in general, please do consult the sample data entry at
    (these are the exact same citations used as exacmples in the guide)

    legal metadata is a mess in the first place and as I say above, most of this isn't possible to do properly unless you're using MLZ Zotero, so you won't get cases cited correctly from automatic input and you will have to follow the data input template exactly to get the desired output.

    @Paul - how about my question about Chicago Manual. How do the same citations look there?
  • Thanks Adam. I can see how to achieve it by manually changing the data in each field, but I was wondering whether it could populate automatically. Manual intervention is definitely better than nothing though.
  • @paultroop: On the backreferencing issue, if switching to another style and back does not resolve the problem, please start a separate thread for it so we can focus on just that.
  • @adamsmith: sorry, thanks for the reminder. Yes, it is still problematic with Chicago - the problem must be with ODF scan (see below). @fbennett: I've put a comment on the ODF Scan page, which can be found here:

    @everybody else, thank you for all your comments and assistance!
  • Sorry, sorry, sorry, I have switched back to OSCOLA again and all the 'n's now work fine. I'm sorry to have wasted everybody's time.
  • The references now appear as follows:

    54. Dennett, The Intentional Stance, (n 20), p 16; Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (New Ed with additions, Black Swan 2007) p 211.
    56. Dennett, The Intentional Stance, (n 20), p 23.
    57. Dennett, The Intentional Stance, (n 20).
    58. Ibid 17.
  • that looks right to me. Note 57 would only appear as "ibid" if it also referred to p. 23
  • @paultoop: No worries, it's a small quirk in the ODF scan workflow. On the initial ODF conversion, the codes are set as "in-text" references, so things go a little weird with a footnote style. Switching to another style and back brings things right.

    @adamsmith (actually just for folks who come across this thread): Note 57 will render as "ibid" if any pinpoint is given on the cite. It's rendered in full form in this case because it's a global reference to the source, and a bare "ibid" would signify p. 23 in that sequence.
  • Just pushed a small update.
    - Should fix the commas issue for supra notes reported by Oby.
    - Also strips periods from a number of fields where it looked unproblematic to me, including publisher.
    - It won't label cases as unreported anymore.
  • Found what I believe is a small bug: When citing books that have a populated URL field, the OSCOLA style will include the URL and even if a pagerange is present.

    This is not the correct behavior. eBooks are to be cited as regular books, as long as the files downloaded have pagenumbers corresponding to the physical printed books.
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