IEEE abbreviations work for journals not conferences, can conference specific abbreviations be added


I'm using Zotero 5.0.55 and Better Bib(La)Tex 5.0189, to produce a BibTex file to be used with the IEEEtran BibTex Style. I've notice when enabling journal abbreviations in better BibTex, they actually work correctly for journals but not conferences. This is similiar to this post last year:

From what I've read of Better BibTex's documentation, the abbreviations used come straight from Zotero itself, and are not specific to Better BibTex. I can see how Zotero is performing the abbreviation by selecting an item in my library, then opening the style editor for the IEEE style (via Zotero Preferences --> Cite --> Styles). What the style editor shows me is consistent with the abbreviations I get in my BibTex file.

What I don't understand is how these abbreviations work, and if it's possible to modify/extend them. By looking at the different styles in the style editor or style preview, it appears that some styles do and some don't abbreviate a journal title. I.e. the abbreviations are some how tied to the IEEE.csl style itself. Opening the file in notepad++, i don't see anything abbreviation related in there.

I've also come across older posts mentioning an abbreviation.json file that can be placed in the Zotreo data folder, next to the zotero.sqlite file. I found that file on github but I can't see the journal names or keywords that match the journals I'm using, however the journals I cite are still abbreviated correctly. So I'm not sure if abbreviations.json is what I'm looking for.

Is there a way to modify the abbreviations that the IEEE.csl style selection appears to use? I'd like to extend it to abbreviate the list of 17 conference words given in the IEEE style guide ( see page 38 of the PDF, labelled page 36). Fore example, Conference becomes Conf., Proceedings becomes Proc. etc.

Two examples to highlight the behaviour I'm seeing:
The First Item has a DOI of 10.1109/TPEL.2018.2822722 and has a "Publication" entry in Zotero containing "IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics". The style editor shows this reference as:
[1] O. Knecht and J. W. Kolar, “Performance of Series-Compensated IPT Systems for High Power Transcutaneous Energy Transfer,” IEEE Trans. Power Electron., pp. 1–1, 2018.

The second item is a conference paper taken from the conference (that appears) to be the same as the example given in the IEEE style guide. The DOI is 10.1109/ROBOT.1996.506555 and Zotero has the fields "Proceedings Title" and "Conference Name" both conaining the same text "Proceedings of IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation". The style editor shows this reference as:
[1] S. Commuri and F. L. Lewis, “Adaptive-fuzzy logic control of robot manipulators,” in Proceedings of IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 1996, vol. 3, pp. 2604–2609 vol.3.

Based on the style guide rules (and my best guess), the conference name would abbreviate to "Proc. IEEE Int. Conf. Robotics and Automation".

An Alternative solution: If I can't modify the abbreviation list, is it possible for me to find and replace words in a given field in multiple records, in order to manually abbreviate the conference titles? Based on my quick search, that answer is also a no (unless scripting/API access is used).
  • edited September 22, 2018
    I don't know about the abbreviation list, but in BBT there is indeed a scripting facility:

    It's largely undocumented but I can guide you through it. There are samples at the above link showing basic usage.
  • abbreviations.json is the right file and uses heuristics were it doesn't have words specified. The issue here, though, is that Zotero's IEEE style simply isn't set to abbreviate conference names at all, so that could be adjusted.

    I think the problem here is, though, that such an adjustment is "all or nothing". If we abbreviate conference names, Zotero throws the whole abbreviation logic at conference names, not just a subset, and that will lead to over-abbreviated non-IEEE conferences. If you don't cite those, it's easy to modify the style accordingly.
  • edited August 27, 2018
    (if you want to do this for the regular Zotero-generated bibliographies, this is in principle possible but not using an API that was meant to be used this way, it'd involve monkey-patching. This is a lot of work and pretty fragile -- don't do it unless there is no other way)
  • Thanks for all your feedback and suggestions.

    What I ended up doing was to set the "Proceedings Title" field to a manually abbreviated name (I did this by hand, using the find tool). I left the "Conference Name" field as-is. I get a lot of my items from IEEE Xplore, and so far all of them have had identical contents in the "Proceedings Title" and "Conference Name" fields. This way I still have a copy of the un-abbreviated name in "Conference Name", but BibTex appears to use the "Proceedings Title" field only.

    I think I'll leave it at this approach for the moment, and avoid playing with the underlying abbreviations.json. In the past I've also done performed manual substitions in the BibTex .bib file, or replaced the journal names with the IEEE BibTex specific tags that trigger the IEEE BibTex style to expand them to the correct abbreviated names (but that's a LaTeX/BibTex specific trick well outside of Zotero).

    In the future, a "find and replace" feature could be useful, particularly if it could be limited to the select collection and a field name. I don't know if such an extension exists. Perhaps there's an opportunity for someone to make one if they're so inclined.

    Although, when performing such a "hard" change of a conference name, it would be better to store and have the option of reverting such a change if required (hence the exciting Zotero abbreviation approach is likely the best approach).

    Anyway, I'm happy to do it manually for the small times when I need to abbreviate a conference.
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