Spectral "Section" value

I'm new to Zotero, so I have just acquainted myself with all the discussions on this forum regarding legal citations - specifically, statutes. After much experimentation, I've managed to get the Word plugin to spit out citations like this:

Mich. Comp. Laws § 380.1507, 1976.

I do this by putting everything except the date in the "Name of Act" field. The date goes in the date field. The resulting cite is not strictly correct; that would be:

Mich. Comp. Laws § 380.1507 (1976).

...but it's close enough for my purposes.

Here's the problem: when I first input my statutes, I tried to make each record as complete as possible by typing (yes, Zotero didn't recognize the Michigan code website as statutes, alas) as much data into all the fields as possible. Now I have to delete that data, or the plugin inserts it in odd ways. While deleting it is heartbreaking, the problem is that every once in a while, after I've deleted the "Section" data, it nevertheless is inserted in my new footnote. How can this be? What piece of code is holding onto these ghostly section numbers?

Any ideas? (I considered MLZ to make all this more straightforward, but since I generally work on interdisciplinary teams, I discarded that idea for fear of confusing my social scientist colleagues' citations.)

Thanks all, for any ideas you can contribute.
  • edited June 12, 2014
    What piece of code is holding onto these ghostly section numbers?
    when you insert a citation, zotero embeds the full citation info in the document. Normally that is updated when you change it in Zotero, but if, for example, you delete a citation in Zotero (and "delete" here could e.g. refer to a duplicate) then Zotero will rely on the old info in the document.

    Easiest way around this is to delete the old citation and re-insert it, making sure you select it from "My Library" and note from "Cited" (in the red quick format Word plugin that is)
  • @adamsmith, so are you suggesting that Zotero is not able to produce these citations properly? Would MLZ be the way to go?
  • Goodness, what a quick response! Thank you!

    I was deleting and re-inserting citations, but I was doing it from the red quick format. I'll try it using My Library instad. Many thanks!
  • no, use the red quick format - but you'll see items listed twice: once under "Cited" once, further down, under "My Library". Make sure you select the latter.

    @aurimas - well, real legal support is only possible in MLZ. It would likely be possible to find a slightly better way of dealing with the data to get to correct citations, that's what I've done when people ask me to do legal styles in plain Zotero—but it'd still be clumsy and likely require style customizing.
    The problem isn't so much this citation, but that different laws require different citations. You can check some of the examples on fbennett's page.
  • Yeah, I figured that Zotero won't be the best choice for this, but I would rather recommend MLZ than entering all meta into title field.
  • Sure, I'd recommend MLZ, too, but I do think dfisch's concerns are entirely valid. While not that different, MLZ can confuse people and many will find the lack of a Standalone a major drawback. And in spite of sync-compatibility, I wouldn't feel confident about collaborating with MLZ and plain Zotero, especially not in a document.
  • If you are entering everything through to the section number pinpoint into the item title field, immediate back-references (id. or ibid.) will work correctly only if you are referring to exactly the same portion of the statute in the two cites.

    It may be worthwhile to store references in Zotero for note-taking convenience, but on the citation side it might be faster to just write the legal citations into the document by hand.
  • edited June 12, 2014
    I wouldn't feel confident about collaborating with MLZ and plain Zotero, especially not in a document.
    Your particular concerns? I'm happy to test whatever scenarios you find worrying; if testing leads us to identify bugs and address them, maybe you can have more confidence.
  • Not necessarily bugs, but e.g. which citation style would people use in that document and would going back and forth with different citation styles cause issues - if not with Zotero than potentially with formatting.
  • It depends on where people put their priorities, but it seems like transient formatting errors would be a smaller issue than the portability of research data.
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