disambiguation-rule="primary-name" and possible citeproc-js issue

This came up on https://github.com/jgm/pandoc-citeproc/issues/38:

Authors “Ann Doe / Ben Doe / Ron Roe” are rendered as follows in-text with chicago-author-date.csl:

  • “A. Doe, Doe, and Roe (2007)” with pandoc(-citeproc) – for MWE see link above
  • “Doe, Doe, and Roe (2007)” with citeproc-js

Now I don’t think “A. Doe, Doe, and Roe (2007)” is correct according to CMoS 16e 15.21: There’s nothing to indicate they want name disambiguation in addition to the disambiguation of cites.

If disambiguation-rule="primary-name" is replaced by givenname-disambiguation-rule="by-cite", pandoc renders the in-text citation as “Doe, Doe, and Roe (2007)” (which I think is correct).


  1. Is there any reason why chicago-author-date.csl has disambiguation-rule="primary-name" rather than "by-cite"? – I’d argue only the latter is in conformance with CMoS.

  2. Does the fact that citeproc-js does not render the initial when the style has disambiguation-rule="primary-name" reveal a possible bug?

  • 1. Yes. It's the example in 15.21:
    Where two or more works by different authors with the same last name are listed in a reference list, the text citation must include an initial (or two initials or a given name if necessary).

    Text citations:

    (C. Doershuk 2010)
    (J. Doershuk 2009)
    The citations are not ambiguous without the initial. Just the first name is, so this is not "by cite". Since the last name of the first author also affects the location in the bibliography, I think following APA's "primary author" rule here makes sense absent additional guidance from the manual.

    2. No, this is on purpose. The specifications aren't 100% clear (nor were we when we wrote them originally, I believe), but "primary-name" is disambiguating across first authors (and we've confirmed that's what APA, for which we originally added this, wants). citeproc-js handles this correctly; pandoc-citeproc should adjust accordingly.
  • Thank you, sounds convincing.
  • I have been looking at pandoc-citeproc's handling of disambiguation. I am using it with the chicago-author-date.csl from the styles repo, which has the 'primary-name' rule set.

    Suppose that I have a coauthored paper by Smith, A. and Smith, B. and a single authored paper by Smith A.

    This is what I would expect to see, having read http://docs.citationstyles.org/en/1.0.1/specification.html#disambiguation

    (A. Smith and Smith 2019)
    (A. Smith 2018)

    The Zotero plugin for Libreoffice gives me:

    (Smith and Smith 2019)
    (Smith 2018)

    It doesn't seem to disambiguate names, despite the option. (Personally, I prefer that.) This is what I would expect to see with the default option from the spec.

    pandoc-citeproc gives me a third thing:

    (A. Smith and Smith 2019)
    (Smith 2018)

    However, if the date of the single authored paper is the same as the coauthored one, the initial is added. (I find that confusing.)

    I raised an issue: https://github.com/jgm/pandoc-citeproc/issues/408

    My question is, which of these three behaviours is correct, according to the citation style language spec, and according to the Chicago Manual?
  • Zotero's/citeproc-js's behavior is correct for the specs. primary-name only disambiguates different first authors. Since Smith is the same first author in both cases, there is no disambiguation. If the author order of the two author paper were reversed, correct behavior would be

    (B. Smith and Smith 2019)
    (A. Smith 2018)

    The Chicago Manual is quite sparse in its discussion of this, but I think we may have asked about this in the past -- we at least think that the current behavior is correct. It definitely is correct for the APA Manual, which goes into more detail on this question.

  • Thanks. That makes sense of what Zotero does.
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