General issues with Zotero


I've been using Zotero for a few days now. It was the clear choice, in a sense, because it is among the few reference managers that can by-pass network restrictions (via using the firefox plugin).

I have had some problems, though, and I am not sure if that is my own misusage or that's just how Zotero works. I am using the APA style in Word 2010 Professional Plus. Below are the three most annoying issues I ran into. I would appreciate comments. Maybe I am doing something wrong. If not, I would submit feature requests.

1) Zotero doesn't seem to know in what order citations are placed.

If I put any multi-author reference in the middle of my document, then place the same reference at the beginning, what should happens is that the first reference becomes Author1, author2, ..., year. The second one should be Author1 et al, year. However, since I entered the later reference first, that one has all the authors and the first reference is shortened to author1, author2 et al (year). That brings me to issue 2:

2. Why are there two authors in an "et al" reference? It should just be Author1 et al (year), not Author1 author2 (year).

3. There doesn't seem to be a direct way to define in-text vs in-parenthesis citations. There is only parenthesis style.

All references are entered as (Author1, ..., year). There doesn't seem to be an option to enter a reference as Author 1, ... (year). Sure, I could omit the auhor, just enter the year and put that in paranthesis...but then I might as well just type the whole thing myself and copy-paste the reference from Google Scholar. I mean, that just seems to be a whole lot of hustle just to switch the style from text to parenthesis.
  • edited October 13, 2014
    (1) sounds like a bug. Try hitting Refresh in the Zotero toolbar in Word. If that doesn't work, try switching to another style and back.

    (2) You probably have another reference in the text that begins with the same two authors.

    (3) See for a long discussion why this probably won't happen. The gist of it is that in the second style, the names of the authors serve as integral parts of the sentence and are not simply reference marks (so, for example, switching from APA to a numeric style would destroy the sentence).

    Edit: but also for (3), I'm not sure that you're doing it right. You would enter the author names as part of the text and then insert a reference from Zotero (not just enter the year manually) with "Suppress Authors" checked. That obviously offers advantages over just copy-pasting references from wherever, since Zotero will format the bibliography for you and keep track of subsequent references, etc.
  • Thanks for your quick and helpful reply.

    Changing style and back worked for (1).

    For (2), you were right as well. There was another reference beginning with the same two authors.

    Regarding (3)..I guess it is a little subjective in the end. I am used to Latex's Natbib/Biber approach, where one can switch quickly between the two citation styles. At the cost, of course, that switching to a footnote based system would call for a rewrite of the document. I prefer that, mostly out of habit, but also because I change sentences way more often than I switch the overall reference style.

    I did see the "suppress author" approach somewhere else. That's what I meant in my post, though not explained all to well. I'm not too happy with that approach tbh, but I guess that belongs in the other thread you mentioned.
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