Multiple in-text citation patterns

Hi everyone,
Having been an Endnote user for a few years and a recent Zotero converted, I always encountered the same problem. Imagine the following passage:
According to X (2008), climate change is irreversible.
In this example, I have to write "X" by hand and insert a Zotero citation and check the "remove author". This style includes parentheses for the citation. If on the other hand the text is:
Climate change is irreversible (see X 2008 for a detailed review of literature).
I don't have to suppress the parentheses but the zotero style will insert the parentheses.
I think that Zotero could revolutionize the field if the developers achieve at imitating the citet{} and citep{} latex commands. A single in-text citation method is a real pain (Endnote had the same drawback).
Am I missing something? thanx for the input.

P.S. before you say "in that case, go back to latex", I would like to add that most people are afraid of latex so when I have to collaborate, no other option is available.
«13
  • I've never worked with bibtex so I don't know what the commands do, but the solution to the 2nd citation is to use the prefix and suffix fields in the citation dialogue - I think that's quite elegant as a solution, because that means that if you switch to a FN based style everything still makes sense.
  • edited January 8, 2009
    I'm with adam.smith, it's actually a good thing that the citation formatting and document structure are closely linked. That said, it would be handy in the plugin clients to be able to highlight areas before and after a citation reference in the main text, and have that text moved into the prefix and suffix fields, with appropriate formatting adjustments. The same machinery could be used to merge notes, as well, which would save time and distraction. Would be an improvement over the current interface, when things get to that stage.
  • I have been using the prefix-suffix option so the problem still lies in having the two reference styles available. Let me explain the latex commands (by using the same example):
    According to \citet(key), climate change is irreversible=>
    According to X (2008), climate change is irreversible.

    Climate change is irreversible (see \citep(x) for a detailed review of literature).
    Climate change is irreversible (see X 2008 for a detailed review of literature).

    Another thing: if I need to write:
    According to Blake and Tifanny's (2008) research...
    In this case, the prefix-suffix solution is not viable so I would have to write to authors by hand and include only the date with zotero.
    In this case, what do I do?
  • In this case, the prefix-suffix solution is not viable so I would have to write to authors by hand and include only the date with zotero.
    Why? Just write the "According to Blake and Tifanny's" and "research ..." as regular text, cite the 2008 item, and suppress the author.

    Right?

    I realize you've grown used to the LaTeX way, but I don't think the Zotero method presents any real practical problems. It also has some advantages over LaTeX/BibTeX (like easier switching between citation styles; like author-date to note*).

    * LaTeX/BibTeX has awkward commands like footcite, which effectively means you have to significantly modify document source if you need to change styles like this.
  • Do I understand correctly that the only problem is writing out the authors names in the 2nd case? That hardly seems a problem to me, to be honest. The time won will be lost overall by having to chose between different styles for each citation..
    I think the difference here is between a code based language such as LaTeX/BibTex, where adding new commands doesn't present much of an issue, versus a menu based language such as Zotero, where one important goal is too keep the process as lean as possible.

    The Zotero way also allows for more liberty in writing:
    e.g. you can do stuff like "as Blake and co-authors (2004) note..." (instead of the somewhat awkward Blake et al.) or: Blake, in a seminal paper (2004), notes
    and so on.
  • A truly smooth implementation is a ways off in the future, but a lot of users need to have their cites format correctly in both bibliography and footnote styles. It should be possible to produce something like ...

    Climate change is irreversible.1
    According to Blake and Tifanny's2 research...
    1. See Blake and Tiffany, Research on Climate Change, 14 Journal of Climate Change 233, 238 (1988) for a detailed review of literature.

    2. Id. at 242.
    ... without any adjustments to the text of your document. The way things are structured in Zotero currently, it will eventually be possible to do liquid formatting to this level. In the example you give, the two author names in the main text are part of the argument, so they really should be typed separately. To push things further than that would take Zotero into some scarey uncharted territory in document generation.
  • The Zotero way also allows for more liberty in writing:
    e.g. you can do stuff like "as Blake and co-authors (2004) note..." (instead of the somewhat awkward Blake et al.) or: Blake, in a seminal paper (2004), notes
    and so on.
    That's the whole issue. What you call "more liberty", I see it as a mistake-prone behavior. I see two problems in typing down the authors in this example:
    a. possible typos;
    b. having to change text in case you need to change styles; that is, in some journals you have to write "Blake et al. (2004)", in others "Blake & al. (2004)", in others yet "Blake and colleagues (2004)".

    Actually, I think the perfect solution would be for zotero to allow users to insert a citation and exclude the date (in the current version, only authors can be excluded). This way I would have to insert the same citation twice, once for the author and one for the date [in cases like "Blake's (2004) review..."] but that's not a problem.

    thanks for all your input.
  • I was just going to write this exact issue. Days when I used Latex/BibTeX \citet{} and \citep{} used to give me the freedom to decide whether I want the intext citation to be in parenthesis or not irrespective of the style I choose. But both zotero and Endnote or any other refman sofwares that I come across do it this way. This will be a nice feature to add into zotero. If you any of you have got a work around it please let me know.
  • That's great for citation styles that use keys referring to a bibliography, but as bdarcus writes above, it makes it painful to convert a document to a footnoted style. The level of pain depends on the style, but some of us have been there and done that, and the pain can be pretty severe. Here's an example. Here's another example. Speaking from personal experience, I wouldn't want to go back there.
  • actually I cant agree with bdarcus on that. In Latex changing your references to a footnoted style and vice versa can be done with one global command at the beginning of the source irrespective of the reference style one is using. But the greater advantage of commands like \citet{} and \citep{} are even within a given style of bibliography I can refer to an item within or outside paranthesis as required in the body of the text. This saves me time writing out the names of authors in the body when they have to be outside of parenthesis. In zotero I have to write the name in the text after suppressing it while inserting bibliography which is kind of incomplete/unprofessional according to me. Moreover, varied use of et al. others etc. that are demanded by each styles makes this even more complicated as ephienix rightly pointed out.

    I am a newbie here to zotero and would love to see zotero being able to do everything I used to do in BibTex and more than that. I have absolutely no idea how difficult or easy it is to incorporate the above into zotero.
  • So for those of you that feel so strongly about this, then provide a coherent explanation of how it should work in Zotero and Word/OOo in ways that don't impede the advantages of the current support. Don't tell people here simply to do it the way it's been done in BibTeX; that's not a compelling argument.
  • hmm - I'm also not 100% convinced this is such a big deal. Writing out the authors just seems like a really minor issue to me - but I suppose if some journals actually require the authors - even if part of the text - to follow a specific citation standard, you'd want that to change as you switch styles.

    As a solution I could see a box - similar to the current "supress author" - which would move the authors in front of the parentheses - this wouldn't seem super difficult to program.

    But what I do wonder - if the style is then switched to footnotes - how is that supposed to work? Zotero usually simply puts a footnote instead of the citation. But where the authors are part of the text that clearly isn't possible - the sentence would be rendered incomplete. It is for that reason that I'm with Frank here - everything that's needed to make the text gramatically correct should be part of the text and not of the citation.
  • edited January 30, 2009
    But what I do wonder - if the style is then switched to footnotes - how is that supposed to work? Zotero usually simply puts a footnote instead of the citation. But where the authors are part of the text that clearly isn't possible ...
    It does seem tricky from the document level.

    Right now, a citation like "(Doe, 1999)" is field in the document, where the whole string is part of that field. So a processor knows what to do with that; if you switch to a note style, it just puts the field a footnote (and vice versa).

    But if the author part of the field then becomes part of the text, and the rest gets footnoted, am not really sure how'd you'd encode that.
  • I am certainly incompetent to suggest or program how this should be implemented zotero. I am only an end user who has experienced a nice feature in LaTeX/BibTeX and wishing if it were there in Zotero as well. While I can tell you a missing feature in Zotero, I am simply unable to offer a solution for it if thats what makes an argument compelling. I am still not sure if you are understanding what this feature exactly does.

    taking the example from bdarcus: lets say I have a situation where I need to write a citation in two different ways in the same style. Let me take the author-year style here. Consider these examples.

    1)"In a pioneering study Doe et al. (1999) established that..."
    2)"In a pioneering study - - - were established (Doe et al. 1999)".

    Here if I use Bibtex I can write the citation in the first case as \citet{refkey} and the one in second case as \citep{refkey} where "refkey" belongs to the reference Doe et al. In both cases "Doe et al. (1999)" or (Doe et al. 1999) the whole string is part of the field. But in both cases the field is expressed in different ways by differenting how we input them. But I should admit there is a problem here. If I have to now convert the entire text into a numbered format it can cause problems. I will leave a number in the place of example 1 while with example 2 a number is fine. However, this is not an issue, as long as I am using any kinds of author year styles. So my freedom here in LaTeX is limited to using an author year style in this kind of situations. But if I know I am going to use a numbered style to begin with, I can take care of it while I compose the document. As far as a numbered citation style is concerned there is no difference between Latex and zotero in their treatment of citations. The difference emerge in case of author year formats.

    So its not completely elegent in LaTeX either. May be I shouldnt complain any further. However, in most cases when I use an author year style I wish I didnt have to type out the names and just use some thing like \citet and \citep in Zotero to do that. Coz I some times do not have the patients to look at the spellings of multiple authors.
  • I am certainly incompetent to suggest or program how this should be implemented zotero. I am only an end user who has experienced a nice feature in LaTeX/BibTeX and wishing if it were there in Zotero as well. While I can tell you a missing feature in Zotero, I am simply unable to offer a solution for it if thats what makes an argument compelling.
    I would find an argument compelling if you could explain, from your user perspective, how it would work. E.g. how would you imagine extending the current support? What would the citation insertion GUI look like?
    I am still not sure if you are understanding what this feature exactly does.
    Of course I understand. I've used BibTeX and LaTeX.
    ... But I should admit there is a problem here. If I have to now convert the entire text into a numbered format it can cause problems. I will leave a number in the place of example 1 while with example 2 a number is fine. However, this is not an issue, as long as I am using any kinds of author year styles.
    Right, but this is an unacceptable weakness in my view. Document encoding of citations should not be predicated on assumption about what kind of style an author must use.

    So at least we understand what the problem is. There may be ways around it, but I don't think it's necessarily trivial.
  • so there seems to be a trade-off:
    The Bibtex version is better suited when you switch from one author-date style to another (with different mulitple author requirements),
    whereas the Zotero version is better suited for switching between a numbered style and an author-date style.

    I can't think of an elegant solution that handles both - one option would be, of course, to integrate both solutions - this wouldn't appear very difficult to program, though I'm a bit worried about too many options there.

    I guess the ideal solution, as hinted at by Frank above would be to use - in addition or instead of the supress author box - a box for the equivalent of the \citet function - this would need to work in a way that a numbered style would not simply replace the field by a number, but by author and number.

    I don't know, however, how hard that would be to program - doesn't seem easy, though.
  • I am happy you got what I was trying to say. Adam.smith explained it better here. Thats exactly what I meant. Even in Latex I can simply use \cite instead of \citet or \citep in which case it will work just like zotero an convert from author date to numbered styles without any troubles. But the added \citet and \citep options are bonus to a user in my perspective and I like that bonus feature.
  • glad I could help -
    I don't think, though, that \cite does the same as Zotero.
    Just be aware that in many disciplines this:
    "But if I know I am going to use a numbered style to begin with, I can take care of it while I compose the document."
    is not possible - you could, for example, get your manuscript rejected by the #1 Journal in Political Science - American Political Science Research, using author-date - and then want to submit to the #2 - World Politics - using (roughly) Chicago Style Full (foot)notes.

    The elegance of the supress author option (which is afaik not something that LaTeX does with a simple \cite) is that this would be possible with one mouseclick.

    The issue here is that, as a GUI language, Zotero faces other limitations. In LaTeX I can just add more and more commands (e.g. LaTeX does the same as Zotero's supress author with \citeyearpar) - this is costly in Zotero, as it overburdens the interface.

    My sense is, though, that \citet actually does what I suggest above - i.e. distinguish between author-date and numbered styles
    - in a numbered style \citet{doe90} --> Jones et al. [21]
    and not just [21]
  • I realize you've grown used to the LaTeX way, but I don't think the Zotero method presents any real practical problems. It also has some advantages over LaTeX/BibTeX (like easier switching between citation styles; like author-date to note*).

    * LaTeX/BibTeX has awkward commands like footcite, which effectively means you have to significantly modify document source if you need to change styles like this.
    Plain LaTeX/BibTeX is a pain, as it only knows \cite and nothing more. But several addon packages provide several stages of comfort. When you finally come to biblatex, you have all the comfort of the Zotero approach with \autocite, which switches between author-year, footnote and numeric depending on the citation style.
    I would find an argument compelling if you could explain, from your user perspective, how it would work. E.g. how would you imagine extending the current support? What would the citation insertion GUI look like?
    I think the GUI is the least problem here. Just replace the "suppress author" checkbox (which I always found a bit strange) with a select box where you can choose between several citation formats, e.g. "Full cite (default)", "Omit author", "Text cite", and possibly others like "Only year", "Only author", and what ever you can think of and what makes sense.

    The more severe problem in my eyes is that you have to ignore the CSL style in some ways. "Suppress author" already does this to some extent. But having a text cite à la Somebody (2008) would mean to

    a) Insert the author in a hard coded way,
    b) insert the cite accoding to CSL with the author omitted.

    But I think this wouldn't make switching beween styles too hard. You could have Meyer (2008) for author-year, Meyer [12] for numeric and Meyer¹² for footnote styles.

    ¹²) Some title. New York 2008.

    A possible way to work around the hard-coding of the way the author is printed in a text cite would be to allow the CSL style to hook in. E.g. one could make use of the options in the citation block (et-al-min and others) and use a macro "author-short" or "author" if present (which is the recommended name according to the csl_syntax_summary).
  • @felwert: yes, I think you summarize the issues. I think adding support for this sort of thing would require changes to CSL such that you would be forced to configured the different output options. And then there's that problem of switching styles, which is really about the integration with the word-processor and the document. That may be the hardest part, actually. And given that the current, more limited, support still has bugs, I have to believe this would not be the highest priority.
  • edited August 26, 2009
    I agree with the original poster. I also agree that Zotero does provide the basic functionality to get around this by editing the citation. However, it is also the case that references in the style "Author (2009)" are exceedingly common, and in cases where you might have to edit a last name (e.g. adding umlauts or other non-English punctuation, the citation you brought down has last names in all caps, or authors are wrong and you don't catch this until later) the changes you make to your reference library won't propagate correctly into your document. In some cases, it's half a year, the references have been fixed, and only then do you get your manuscript back for revision.

    Can we consider the following possibilities:

    * a check box to suppress parentheses or enclosing brackets (perhaps even just suppressing all prefixes and suffixes?) (thus "please see (Author, 2009) for more details" could become just "please see Author, 2009, for more details")
    * including the parentheses automatically as default for the prefix and suffix (this way we could manually delete them if necessary)
    * combining this with the ability to "suppress date"? Thus we could paste together the brackets, authors, and dates independently using multiple citations and achieve a "Author (2009)" that is linked to the zotero backend appropriately?

    I agree it's pretty an idea which is very inelegant, but it would be workable for the time being..

    I took a look at the APA csl, and I noticed that the code for citations did include a suffix and a prefix-- I'm assuming those operate in a very different fashion than the prefix and suffix that are found in the MS Word interface?

    In my own work, and I can't comment on the writing styles of any others, the check box, or some other resolution, would be very useful.
  • I can't speak for the Zotero developers, but the new CSL citation formatter that is being developed will at least offer the possibility of supporting this functionality.

    What makes it awkward to go beyond the current suppress-author solution is the fact that CSL and the Zotero plugins are meant to allow a document to be switched between arbitrary citaiton styles. The form "Smith (2000a)" needs to have a sensible represention in numbered styles and in note styles, and CSL needs to be able to generate it automatically, without user intervention. Numbered styles are particularly tricky in this regard.

    The new processor will have the capability to deliver the author string (the "Smith" part) and the reference (the "(2000a)" part) separately to the plugin, so that each can be given formatting appropriate to its context (which in the case of a numbered style may include superscripting and boldface), and be placed in the proper location (which in a note style may be a footnote).

    All that I have done is to include a low-level facility in the processor that can be called to get appropriate strings. Exploiting it on the plugin side and in the Zotero UI is not a completely trivial task, and whether to attempt the extensions needed for it, and if so, what its priority for that work should be in the roadmap, is one for the Zotero development team.

    In case you're interested, here are the tests used to exercise the relevant facilities in the CSL processor:

    Suppress author (current behavior)
    Suppress author in a numbered style (same as current behavior)
    Author only
    Author only followed by suppress author, in a numbered style
  • This definitely sounds like the right direction, but I imagine it's something that will take a while to become supported. In a way, though, I think it's critical: this is taking citations to a new level. One might even expect that at some future point the csl would contain information regarding how to cite in particular instances, e.g. flexible plugin ui options which would allow you to choose from any of the citation formats (e.g. a default "passive" format when referencing (e.g. "Previous work has confirmed this (Author, 2009)"), an inline "active" format when directly referring to the work (e.g. "As shown by Author (2009)"), a "parenthetical" format "(See Figure 1 of Author, 2009)", etc. For formats that don't have these options, different options would be presented in the "citation style" drop-down of the ui (maybe numeric reference styles wouldn't have any options! well, "omit brackets" might be useful)

    This is of course wishful thinking on my part. In the meantime, I will continue to use the editor..
  • I think we want to be careful not to scare the developers away. :-) It's also probably not a good thing to put too many options into the UI, since every new one adds to the hassle-cost incurred to find any of the others -- there's a kind of tragedy of the commons that sets in with feature bloat, which can end up ruining the party for everyone.

    There are two advantages that an "author name in text" option would offer, though, that might make this worth implementing. One is the savings on the proofing of in-text references to author names that you referred to above. The other is that it would allow support for numbered styles that put ordinary bib references in superscript, but use ordinary full-height characters if the numbered reference is given in the main text (i.e. "According to source [15], water is wet". This is a common style of citation in Chinese scientific publications, apparently.

    Addressing those two cases would require only a single tick-box in the UI, alongside the existing "suppress author" selection.
  • I agree it could be a pain to implement, but, at the same time, we are talking about changing the "suppress author" tag to a drop-down menu with choices that are specific to the particular referencing style in question. The specification for the drop-down menu (i.e. possible ways to insert a citation) would be something described in the CSL.

    Of course a big problem would be changing reference styles. Someone with more experience with multiple citation formats would have to comment regarding interoperability between different citation types (surely a big headache, but perhaps a workable solution still exists.)

    But I agree-- there's probably enough still broken. However, on another note, if you gave us two more checkboxes: 1) suppress date; 2) suppress brackets, we could hack in everything I can think of for the APA format by inserting two references.
  • I also need this kind of functionality. But also I understand the trade-off, specially for those frequently switching styles from a author-date to numeric ones.

    I was thinking of a (nasty-patched) solution but I couldn't yet make it work it. Maybe some among you - much skilled in zotero stuff or CSL - can figure it out. Here is the thing. I've noticed that zotero handles differently the in-text citations if you pick single source than multiple sources, even when you select only ONE "multiple" source. For instance this happens with the option et-al family using MS Word 2007 (I haven't check elsewhere).

    So if the CSL style could add prefix="(" and suffix=")" only to single sources dates, but keep the normal behavior to multiple sources this will allow the three kind of possibilities. Meaning:

    1)"[Doe et al. (1999)] proved..." (inserted as single source)
    2)"A study proved...([Doe et al. 1999])" (inserted as a ONE item multiple source)
    3)"Several studies proved ([Doe et al. 1999; Smith et al. 1999])" (inserted as multiple source, as normally used)

    I don't know how it works, but I suspect zotero to pass something to CSL telling it how many references are also being passed or at least something telling "single" or "multiple".

    Maybe this is useless.

    J.
  • @julioraffo,

    Workarounds based on quirks or irregularities in existing code could vanish at any time. It's probably best to keep an eye on the functionality and the use cases it addresses, and continue to look for opportunities to implement it properly. Less stress that way in the long run.
  • edited August 30, 2009
    @fbennett, which one comes first? The properly implemented solution or the quirk-one disappearance? In the long run, we're all dead and our papers unpublished =p

    I know it is nasty, but it can be a "rightnow" solution for some desperate users. And it would be harmless from the zotero point of view as it is on the CSL side.

    J.
  • Well, apparently the quirk-solution disappearance. I've rechecked and there isn't such difference, but rather a misinterpretation from my side. I'm such a moron. Sorry, I was just trying to help.

    So I humble vote for a solution as the one suggested above by fshic (and others). In-text CSL could have citations layout with children that are harmlessly overridden by other Styles, notably numeric ones. Those children can be recovered in a pulldown menu by zotero insert citation dialog.
  • Don't be hard on yourself; citation management is a complicated business, we all trip up from time to time. I do believe that this will be solved in time.
Sign In or Register to comment.