Proper use of "disambiguate"


My publisher requests to disambiguate short cites by adding a short title if more than one work from an author is cited. I tried to implement this in CSL using the following fragment:

<else-if position="subsequent">
<text macro="contributors-short"/>
<if disambiguate="true">
<text macro="title-short" prefix=", "/>
<text macro="citation-locator" prefix=", "/>
I'd expect this to insert the short title if there are more than two works from an author, but it doesn't work as expected. Could anyone give me a hint towards a working solution?

  • I just wanted to inquire: Is the above example correct, and is such a functionality just not implemented in Zotero? Or did I misunderstand the way disambiguate is meant to work? I’d be happy to find a solution for this using Zotero/CSL.
  • I have experienced the same issue and I have not found a solution either.
  • edited May 15, 2009
    felwert, matthew,

    I'm working on a new CSL processor for possible inclusion in Zotero, and I'm keen to get all known disambiguation issues settled correctly before it eventually goes live.

    I'm not sure what logic the current Zotero processor applies, but In the draft code of the new processor, disambiguation is done on the basis of the first-reference form of the citation, with the "et-al" parameters appropriate to subsequent references. So if you had two sources with a single author like this:

    Albert Smith, Book A (2000)
    Albert Smith, Book B (2001)

    and the first-reference form looked like this:

    Smith (2000)
    Smith (2001)

    the "disambiguate" flag would never turn true, because the citations are always unambiguous in the first-reference form.

    It may be that this is inadequate, but I need a complete example before I can think about how the logic should be adjusted. It would be very helpful if you could provide the following, for a pair of citations that should appear with the short title in felwert's example:

    - The form of both cites in the bibliography
    - The form in which both cites should appear in each of the position branches (first-reference, ibid, ibid-with-locator, subsequent).

    (It is possible that this style requirement is not actually about disambiguation, but about responding dynamically to the number of works by the same author, full stop. If that's the case, some means of setting that as a parameter may be needed in CSL. But we'll need those examples to know whether that's the case.)

    Many thanks,
    Frank Bennett
  • fbennet, thanks for your comment.

    If the CSL processors only compare the first-reference form, this might well explain why it fails in my case. In note styles, the first-reference is often a full bibliographical record which should always be distinct enough. The problem is rather the subsequent case, where only a subset of the original information is given, so disabiguation might be relevant.

    In my case, the publisher wants something like this:

    John Doe, Only book by john with a long title, Anywhere 1999, page.
    Adam Smith, Book A with a long title, Somewhere 2000, page.
    Adam Smith, Book B with a long title, Somewhere 2001, page.

    A bibliography is completely omitted, since all information is given in the first footnote.


    ibid with different page than first one:
    A.a.O., page.

    J. Doe, page.
    A. Smith, Book A, page.
    A. Smith, Book B, page.

    So for John, the title can be omitted in the subsequent cite, since there is only one book by John. For Adam, the short title is used for disambiguation. If it is not mentioned, I could not distinguish the first cite from the second one. So I think that this is really about disambiguation, not merely about the number of titles from that author.

  • @felwert,

    Thanks for getting back. In coding the new processor, I've taken on board that disambiguation needs to be based on the subsequent form of the citation. It's still a little rough internally, but you can see a test for the correct behaviour (based on an author-date style that uses a short form for authors in subsequent references) at this URL.
  • Hi there, I have that same problem.
    Can it be done now?
  • Hi,

    Same situation here. Has this been solved?
  • edited July 27, 2017
    @fernanadotc, @danycoolqc,

    The disambiguate condition is working correctly as far as I know, since about seven years ago. Do you have citations that don't resolve correctly?
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