Disable name disambiguation as a global zotero option

I would like to ask for a global option in zotero: disable disambiguation.

Many people struggle with initials appearing next to last names, in styles where only last names are expected.

Fora: "Citations putting in authors' initials/names", "Odd use of author first name initials in citations" and many others.

This is caused by multiple authors being present in the zotero library with the same last name, but different first names (where "D" is different from "Daniel"). I will not comment on the fact that often disambiguation is not needed at all (often ambiguity exists only in the zotero library, not in the manuscript).

The consensus among zotero authors appears that disambiguation is necessary. But this creates more problems than solves. The problem is that some publishers will show "Daniel Doe" as an author, others will show only "D Doe" and both forms will be present in my zotero library.

The proposed way to resolve it is convoluted: editing your csl: http://www.zotero.org/support/kb/given_name_disambiguation
  • I don't have a strong opinion on the global option, but in general it's a bad idea to be lazy about cleaning up your database. Disambiguation isn't the only thing that doesn't work correctly when you have a single author in the database in different ways: First names can be displayed wrongly, sorting of the bibliography can be off, styles with author-substitute options (--- as in Chicago, e.g.) will not work correctly etc.

    As noted in the KB article, Zotero 2.1. can do much more finegrained disambiguation and if people let us know what type of disambiguation a style requires - by reliable info from a style guide, the editors, or unambiguous examples from a published article - we're happy to fix that on the repository.
  • Maybe I should explain my use-case: scientific publications (natural sciences), in all reference styles are use only initials are shown in the reference list.

    The current solution "disambiguates" when there's no ambiguity in my reference list (but there is ambiguity in the library). For the reference list of ~50, the library of 5000+ and the style that doesn't care about full names it is a bit heavy-handed approach.
  • edited July 7, 2011
    What version of Zotero are you using? In Zotero 2.1, disambiguation will only occur if there are family-name clashes among the citations as printed in the document. (Edit: in a style that requires disambiguation, this is exactly what a copy-editor would do when proofing citations for final publication -- if the style doesn't require it, of course, it can and should be turned off.)

    Zotero 2.0 was more aggressive, and included cited names masked by et al. in the clash list. No version of Zotero has ever checked the entire database for clashes.
  • edited July 7, 2011
    Zotero doesn't disambiguate based on the library - the author in question appears in your bibliography (or one of the citations) at least twice - might be as a second or third author - so fixing that really shouldn't be hard.

    Changing the option in the csl takes 2mins, btw., 5mins if you check the instructions after each step, it's not really "convoluted" - it's removing a line from a text file and saving it.

    edit: overlapped with fbennett - to be clear, I'm saying the exact same thing he's saying.
  • I grappled with this recently - http://forums.zotero.org/discussion/18614/duplicate-author-records-breaks-namedate-style/

    If you are seeing "initials appearing next to last names, in styles where only last names are expected."

    Then I agree with the developers you need to tell them the name of the style, and provide evidence that disambiguation is not required for that style so the style can be fixed and others can benefit from it.

    A recent example of this where a style had disambiguation removed based on examples provided by users is here: http://forums.zotero.org/discussion/5250/style-request-ecology/

    I think a good addition to the KB would be a short list of example styles that do not disambiguate names so that people who are writing documents for non-published audiences (teachers, clients etc) who have free choice to choose any style can choose a style that doesn't give them a brain fart when it disambiguates.
  • @disambiguate based on the library: Sorry my bad. Now I agree, Zotero disambiguates only among cited authors.

    However, I observed that there's always more than one Li among my citations :-)
  • There are author-date styles w/o givenname disambiguation - someone would have to look for them, though, I don't know off the top of my head - if someone knows a style I'd be happy to add it to the KB article.
  • I wish for a "disable" option simply because zotero keep annoying me with a bug that screws up disambiguation.
  • Heinrich - since it's a bug that turns up intermittently, we don't even know if turning disambiguation off would help. Also, this means the bug should be fixed, not some partial workaround enabled.

    (here's Heinrich's thread on the problem:
    http://forums.zotero.org/discussion/21340/cp-fix-not-working-for-thisstateregistryregistrymyldsi-bug/ )
  • I don't understand these directions for disabling disambiguation: https://www.zotero.org/support/dev/citation_styles/style_editing_step-by-step

    I see that I should follow the directions below, but I don't know how to get to the file where I make the changes:

    Changing Disambiguation
    CSL offers multiple methods to disambiguate cites or names. For example, a style might normally render only the family name (e.g., “(Doe 1999, Doe 2002)”). If the authors are Jane Doe and Thomas Doe, these names can be disambiguated by adding initials or the full given names (e.g., “(J. Doe 1999, T. Doe 2002)”).

    Disambiguation methods are selected on the citation element. For example, to disable given name disambiguation, delete the disambiguate-add-givenname attribute, e.g. change




    Please can someone write it out in a more user-friendly way? Thank you in advance!
  • These are as user-friendly as we were able to write them. But note that you can't read that section in isolation: the top of the page describes how to edit citation styles (including where to find them) in general.
    If that's not clear, we're happy to help, but you'd have to say what isn't clear as precisely as possible, i.e. say at what point in the instructions you get stuck.
  • Okie doke. So I have the Zotero Style Editor open.

    I could not figure out how to find the text which was suggested on the instructions page: "citation disambiguate-add-givenname="true">" (I removed a "<" in case the code doesn't show up in this message)

    So I copied the code in the editor and pasted it in Word to do a Find (when I did Edit>Find in the Zotero Style Editor, nothing happened).

    Then I found this on page 66 of the code:

    "citation et-al-min="6" et-al-use-first="1" et-al-subsequent-min="3" et-al-subsequent-use-first="1" disambiguate-add-year-suffix="true" disambiguate-add-names="true" disambiguate-add-givenname="true" collapse="year" givenname-disambiguation-rule="primary-name">"

    That doesn't quite look like

    So I don't know what to do now that I am in the Style Editor. Do I change the code in the current window? If so, what do I do? And will this apply across all future APA 6 citations? (I have the APA 6 selected in the upper right drop down).

    Now that I am in the Zotero Style Editor, what do I do to disable disambiguation?

    Thank you!
  • Right, so you need to simply delete disambiguate-add-givenname="true" from that line.
    Also, careful with copying from Word as Word can mess with quotation marks and thus break the whole thing.

    You'll then want to refer to the section on changing style name and ID in the above-linked instructions. Then save the style using the save button and double-click on the saved style to install it in Zotero. This willl be a separate style from APA on your computer (and those changes will apply to all citations in that style, yes).

    All that said, note that givenname disambiguation is a required feature of the APA Manual of Style, so you should only do this if you do not intend to follow the Manual.
  • OK. Thanks so much for the quick response!

    1. How do I find that disambiguate text in the Zotero Style Editor (without copy/pasting to Word)?

    2. I'm not sure what is meant by, "You'll then want to refer to the section on changing style name and ID in the above-linked instructions"

    It's those directions at the top of this page that are really confusing: https://www.zotero.org/support/dev/citation_styles/style_editing_step-by-step

    3. When you say "save button" - I only see "Save As" in the upper left corner.

    4. Then how do I update my Word file so that all the citations use the new style?

    Thanks again!
  • 1. You can e.g. use notepad (in Windows) or Textedit (on Mac)
    2. There's a section called "Change the Style Title and ID" the example there specifically applies to APA, so should be easy to follow.
    3. Yes, Save as, button, sorry
    4. Switch to the new style under "Document Preferences"
  • OK! So I will copy all the code into Notepad and make the changes in there. Then I will copy/paste from Notepad into the Style Editor screen. I thought I had to download something from the Editor, based on the directions from that URL we were referring to. Thanks, I will update once it's all complete!
  • Alrighty, adamsmith, an update:

    1. So I changed the title in the code so it looks like this:
    title>American Psychological Association 6th edition Modified

    (I removed some "<"s again)

    But I am concerned that the following line - link href="http://www.zotero.org/styles/apa" rel="self"/> - didn't get any updates.

    Is that correct? I'm not supposed to update that, am I?

    2. I removed " disambiguate-add-givenname="true" " - but left all the other disambiguate code in there. Is that correct?

    3. When I go to Save As, I'm not sure where to save it. It automatically named the file apa-modified and I saved it in Downloads. When I go to Document Preferences in Word, the citation style isn't there. How do I find the right folder to store "apa-modified"?

    Thank you again!
  • 1. you can change that link to the same as the id, but it's not actually used, so doesn't matter
    2. oh, you should definitely delete givenname-disambiguation-rule="primary-name". Whether you want to also delete disambiguate-add-names="true" depends on what you want -- that one lists additional authors to disambiguate different citations using et al. with identical first author

    3. Doesn't matter where you save it, but you need to then install it. Simply double-clicking the downloaded file should do that.
  • Great, progress.

    To confirm, should I also remove: disambiguate-add-names="true" ?
  • I answered that above.
  • Oh sorry, just realized you wrote that it depends on what I want. :o)

    So here is a summary of the steps, written in NOOB language:

    1. Open Zotero

    2. Edit > Preferences

    3. Cite > Style Editor

    4. Copy the text in the window and paste it into Notepad

    5. Remove disambiguation functionality by searching for these two phrases in the Notepad text and deleting them:
    • disambiguate-add-givenname="true"
    • givenname-disambiguation-rule="primary-name"

    6. Deleting this one is optional; it lists additional authors to disambiguate different citations using et al. with identical first author: disambiguate-add-names="true"

    7. Change the Style Title and ID by searching for “title”
    Important: Before installing your edited style, you must change the style title and ID at the top of the style code. If you don't change these, your modified style will be overwritten the next time the original style is updated.

    The style title and ID are stored within the and elements near the top of the style. For example,

    title>American Psychological Association 6th edition
    can be changed to
    title>American Psychological Association 6th edition Modified

    (some "<"s are deleted so they show up here)

    The URLs that you put in as an ID do not have to exist (i.e., you can use a zotero.org/style/mystyle type ID even if the style will not be posted on the Zotero repository).

    8. Copy the text in the Notepad and use it to replace the text in the Zotero Style Editor

    9. Save the style by clicking Save As in the top left corner

    10. Save the file anywhere on your computer

    11. Double click the file so that it installs

    12. To update your Word file, go to the Zotero tab > Document Preferences > click on the new Citation Style (e.g., American Psychological Association 6th edition Modified)

    Sound about right?
  • Yes, that sounds right; any problems let us know.
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