Duplicate author records breaks Name-Date style?

I've been bashing my head against the same issue reported here:



"When importing a article say with DOI, the author field is not always the same. So depending on how the journal has the author save John Nigle Smith can become J. Smith, J. N. Smith, John N. Smith, J. Nigle Smith, etc.

Now if you were then to enter another article with the same author, the auto-complete will give you all the different version that have previously been used.

This is not too much of a proble, except when you come to Insert different citation by the same author in a word document, with a Harvard style (Surname, Date) instead of just getting (Smith, 2000) you get the different versions of Smith eg (J. N. Smith, 2000), (J. Smith, 2004), (John N. Smith, 2007) etc."


So in my case I'm also getting (John N. Smith, 2007) in my word doc where I want just (Smith, 2007)

I can see what zotero is trying to do here by being more specific it is identifying which "Smith" the citation is for...however this is irrelevant if the other "J Smith" etc are not cited in the same document, and frankly is a pain as it forces editing the zotero database (to make all variants of the same author formatted identically) in order to fix the citation style formating.

To me this seems a kludge because the real issue is the citation style should not be altering the citation format like it does. Is this something that can be solved by editing the style definition to prevent the name expansion or is there more at work here?

Is there a better solution that continual database maintenance? (though I appreciate the end game of removing duplicate author records may be desirable)
  • you're misunderstanding the issue at several levels.
    1. Zotero does not add initials if the other author is not cited somewhere in the document - s/he might be hidden in an et al or so, but is most definitely there.
    2. Zotero is not "altering" a citation format - adding first names or initials is required for disambiguation in many, probably most author-date (aka Harvard) styles, including MLA, APA, and Chicago's author-date style

    The documentation on this issue contains a link to instructions on removing that option, which is explicitly coded into styles:

    That said, perpetual database maintenance really is recommended - many citation styles require full first names anyway.
  • Re (1) in Zotero 2.1, if a name is being expanded, the other name that triggers the expansion should be visible in the document.
  • edited July 4, 2011
    Thanks Adam, fbennet. My grasp on the issues are tenuous and your clarification helps.

    I've tested again this morning on a clean document and confirm fbennet above is correct and name expansion didnt occur without a second variation of the author in the test doc. I'll test more.

    In my field (science, ecology) I dont think I've ever seen citations in the text with full first names - its always (surname, date). Any ambiguity is removed using subscripts on the date (2011a, 2011b etc) and the firstname is only printed out in the full citation in the bibliography. ie name explansion in the bibliography but not in the embedded text citation. I take your point Adam about the generic styles...but individual journals ad-lib on the standards... I'm keeping an eye out now for explicit published examples to verify my perception on this.

    I'm looking for a style guide to refer you to but so far the journals seems to refer authors to their previous editions ...

    Yes -- ongoing database cleanup is desirable.. but there isnt always time!
  • OK - I've worked out why I think this is broken.

    The document contains two citations

    Citation 1: Smith, J and Jones, C , 1989.

    Citation 2: Ross, L and Smith, John 2000.

    In the document text of these should be cited as (Smith & Jones, 1989) and (Ross & Smith, 2000).

    There is no ambiguity as to which citation in the bibliography these refer to as the dates and the co-authors are different.

    Zotero expands the Smith in both cases so the resulting text cited is (J, Smith & Jones, 1989) and (Ross & John Smith, 2000)

    I don't think name expansion is warranted here because clearly the citations are easily distinguished. I don't believe any of the scientific journals I read expand the text citation in this way. Perhaps in the bibliography, but not in the text.
  • "I don't believe" isn't good enough. This type of disambiguation does happen and is required by some styles, so it's not "broken". If you think it is wrong for a specific journal you need to either find something in the style guide or find a specific example from a journal article before I'll change this for a style on the repository.
    In the meantime, I've linked to instructions on how to fix this for your styles locally above.
  • edited July 4, 2011
    @grubs: As adamsmith says, specifics in a style guide or clear evidence of convention would be needed to justify shifting the disambiguation method of a style. For your local version, though, the kind of disambiguation you describe can be invoked by setting givenname-disambiguation-rule="by-cite" in the style. Information on style edits is here.
  • Agreed. I've contacted some journal editors that I've submitted manuscripts to for clarification (hopefully documented). I'm not expecting anyone to alter repository styles on my whim. The point of this thread was for me to understand where and why the name expansion occurs to then contribute to a solution if one is called for.
  • great - thanks.
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