Is there a way to merge duplicates of different types?

Example: a publication is being showed as a "Conference Paper" in one reference and as a "Journal Article" in another reference. Yet, it is the same file. However, I can't merge it.

Is there a way to merge publications with different "item type" ? Or is the only possible way really to delete one of the duplicates?

  • edited February 24, 2024
    edit: I apologize for not saying this more artfully but what you ask is not a straightforward question with a binary choice.

    These questions must be answered:

    Is the "book" a distinct published item with its own metadata from the complete
    "conference paper" that was published elsewhere, perhaps only an abstract?

    (Is the publisher the same for both items?)

    Also, Is this item the entire book or is it a part of a collection of conference papers in a conference proceedings (and thus a Book Section)?

    Is everything except the item type exactly the same? ~Did you, in your search, capture the same thing from two online sources with one labeling the item as a conference paper while the other a book? (I doubt that the item is likely to be a full book.)

    If not exactly the same in your Zotero records, are the items actually different representations of the same material? [edit: if different representations, they are not "duplicates".

    Are both items representations with the same degree of completeness of the text? An alternative is to keep both items but use only one as your citation. Cite the version that the readers of your manuscript will more easily find.]

    These are questions that must be answered when weighing whether to delete one or merge. If you want to merge, and the metadata is essentially the same; pick the most appropriate item type and change the other's type so that it matches. [Book type is probably wrong if the item is from a proceeding book and should be a book section type. Book and book section types require different levels of metadata completeness and must be cited differently in your manuscript.]
  • The problem is simply that one must choose a single item type in order to merge items - there is no way for a single item to possess attributes from more than one item type. So the simplest option currently is to keep them as separate items (linked under Related if you wish). Or some people might delete the conference paper after the full journal article is published; or change the item type of the conference paper prior to merging (and choosing the journal paper as the one to keep), so that at least both PDFs are saved.

    This issue is actually an argument for a new, 'composite' item type, under which several items could be grouped. @Stevenson_15 gives one example - a conference and journal paper that are the same piece of work. But there are many others; a book and its chapters for example. The Related tab as the only way of linking such related works is not ideal. One important factor in keeping them separate currently is that it makes citing the specific one you want possible (so that would need to be solved for a new composite item type to work).
  • @DWL-SDCA and @tim820 , thank you very much for the detailed replies!
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