My last name is two names; can Zotero recognize this?

Hi all,

I've looked in the forums for posts related to last names and haven't found anything relevant, except one discussion of a patch that addresses where two last names separated by a space are split:

I'm wondering why my last name is always listed as Carras in Zotero cites using the Zotero Connector for Chrome. Is it bad metadata, or something else? Here's an example of a recent paper where my last name seems pretty clear in the text and the metadata (if that's indeed what you see when you choose View Page Source in Chrome)

Any thoughts as to what's going on? It's happened with most of my papers. What do people who come from cultures where more than one text block is included in the last name do? e.g., my friend van Rooij is always van Rooij, Van Den Einden is Van Den Einden, Campos Muñoz is correct, etc.

Thanks for any thoughts!

  • edited November 17, 2020
    This is an artifact of the way PLoS provides author names in the webpage header :
    name="citation_author" content="Michelle Colder Carras" where the Zotero translator seems to obtain metadata. PLoS provides a link to article XML where the metadata is properly formatted. Also, the author metadata is in proper format when obtained via DOI.

    I found a similar problem with your suicide article in AJPM but there Elsevier's metadata is wrong everywhere. The issue is similar for your Frontiers and J Clin Psych articles. Zotero can do nothing about those.


    I know to allow for these publisher issues because I know about certain publisher idiosyncrasies and I systematically capture abstracts and metadata separately for journal publishers such as PLoS. The Zotero translator couldn't get abstract and other metadata directly from the publisher without checking two places. (Except now PLoS has started providing good metadata in XML format so it may be possible for thetranslator to use this as the metadata source. --I'll adjust my own system to use the PLoS XML).


    @mcarras My system is able to recognize this name problem because _your_ name is among the list of several hundred authors we have flagged for disambiguation /duplicate checks. In other words, you have published interesting articles and my shop determined that we want to capture and properly assign them to your name. My system recognizes the name "Carras MC" as one that requires further attention.

  • Thank you, very helpful. I didn't quite understand the last paragraph though-could your recommend some way for me to suggest to the publisher that they do something specific with the way they treat last names? I wouldn't know how to word that kind of request.
  • edited November 17, 2020
    I've carried this far off of the Zotero topic so my apologies to the others here.

    Alas, there is very little you can do. It is a problem for authors with compound last names because when you approve proofs you may not have a way to view how the publisher will encode the metadata. This will also be a problem if you aren't the lead or corresponding author because that person may not be particularly attentive to the details of how your name should be represented. You could try to specifically make a note that your first name is Michelle and that you have a compound last-name. You made a decision to not hyphenate your name but I could point to many authors who have hyphenated last names where the publisher has ignored the hyphen and just included a single first and the final name. You have an ORCID ID so you should probably add all reasonable name forms to that record and please do not ever sign up for additional ORCID identifiers. The one consolation I can give you is that, unlike 25 or more years ago, only a very small proportion of literature queries are primarily by author name. (Until the mid-1990s the vast majority of searches were by author name. Everyone know all of the important authors in their field. Thus, author-year reference styles.)

    edit: @mcarras have you not also published with Pennebaker and Sharp under the name Michelle Colder?
  • could your recommend some way for me to suggest to the publisher that they do something specific with the way they treat last names?
    Yes. Names should always be displayed as "lastname(s), firstname" in any metadata, i.e. in your case, "Colder Carras, Michelle" in the citation_author metatag.
    Zotero will import that correctly.

    Absent that, Zotero has to guess whether the second name of three is a middle name or one of two last names. Middle names are more common, so they're, on average, the better guess.
  • edited November 17, 2020
    I'll say again, to echo, that this is not really a Zotero problem in most cases, but a publisher problem. A couple of years ago several Elsevier journals and BMJ Group journals would return for correction manuscripts that had author names in the format LastName, FirstName; LastName2, Firstname. Emerald wanted authors names separated with commas which led to Karcher, Sebastian, Smith, Adam, Lawrence, David sorts of confusion. A few years ago, when talking with the Emerald Group A&I person at a conference booth I asked if I needed to throw a conniption-fit on the floor to get her attention about this. (I didn't but might have if I thought that it would help.) To this day, although the situation is somewhat improved, authors' names (even in print) can be garbled in Emerald journals. Evidence the large number of corrections that are published.

    Please don't let my noise obscure the possibility of using the PLoS link to a really good and accurate XML file for a new translator source.
  • Yes, there are various ways to get better metadata at PLOS that we could explore, but there's also no good reason I'm aware of they need to place bad one in their metaheader. I'd assume google scholar struggles with that, too.
  • edited November 17, 2020
    @adamsmith Don't think that I disagree with you. It would be simple for them to get it right. Their bad-header practice is inexcusable. Especially so because they charge such an astronomical fee to the authors for publishing their manuscripts and their lack of careful text-editing. I wrote to them several years ago about their header problem and received a request for payment if I wanted my "letter" published. I'm still steaming from that.
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