No full author name but only initials for first and last name

This is more a question to satisfy my curiosity than about something that Zotero can resolve. I regularly find engineering articles from any of several journals where the authors full names do not accompany the published article and where the metadata is not only incomplete but reversed. I've found this to me more common with articles from Quebec, Malaysia, and Indonesia among others. In the case of the example below some of the author names are made fully available but it is common for neither the first or family names to be included, only initials.

I've tried to Google for more information but I can find examples of how to handle this with certain styles such as MLA ( where the recommendation is to treat the initials as a single field unit. But that isn't quite right because some of these engineering authors also publish under their full names (and I have somewhat less than full confidence that the author's published article with only initials is the same as the author publishing under a full name) and I don't know if I should modify the initials to the full name. Alphabetization of the full name and the initialized name is a problem. I'd like to handle this consistently as well as correctly.

As you can see, I'm not even sure of the terms to use to properly ask this question. I'm also quite curious about the basis for this convention. Is this expected practice in certain professional disciplines? Is this something that is a convention within certain social cultures?


The PubMed info-page for this article displays:
Comput Methods Biomech Biomed Engin. 2020 May 13:1-11. doi: 10.1080/10255842.2020.1758075.
Identification of the most relevant intervertebral effort indicators during gait of adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis.
B S, M R, S A, C F.

A little detective work allowed me to identify the corresponding author as firstname: Sofiane family name: Achiche

The PubMed and publisher metadata import into Zotero as though the family name is the first name and the first name becomes an initial. Zotero trusts the metadata from PubMed or the publisher as it should. But when I try to edit the Zotero record (see my examples above) by swapping first and last names; I still find this peculiar. This is a more serious problem when the published article and the article metadata provide _only_ initials for both the first and last names.

Surely, wiser and more informed people have thought about this issue. If anyone here can cast light on this for me I would be really appreciative. Thanks.

  • I think it's pretty clear this is a screw-up by the publisher with no basis in how the authors are correctly referred to: the journal cites author names in the bibliography as lastname Initial (that's pretty common). On the author page, authors are given as firstname lastname, but apparently that didn't happen for these authors -- they're still lastname initial which then gets wrongly turned into the initial being their lastname in the metadata and Pubmed picks that up.

    If you click on B S in Pubmed, you'll find numerous other examples resulting from a similar chain of errors.

    I think expanding the name to include the actual last name is definitely the right move. Whether you stick with S Achiche or go with Sofiane Achiche depends on your cataloging preferences. In Zotero, you'd definitely do the latter. I think in traditional library cataloging, there'd be an authority file like Viaf that'd display the author as it is on the work and then assign it to an identifier of all known spellings/versions of their name.
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