Author initials are shown in in-text citations, although they shouldn't [APA 7th]

edited 21 days ago
Dear All,
We have a large database imported a while ago from Endnote. In the current manuscript, we have the problem with in-text citations that often the author initials are shown, although they shouldn't in this style (American Psychological Association, APA, 7th Edition).

For example, we get "... has been shown before (R. R. Provine, 1996)" instead of "...before (Provine, 1996)."

When I cite this paper in a clean new document, it appears indeed as (Provine, 1996). Thus, I thought that maybe there are two different versions of 'Provine' in Zotero's database (there are like 10-15 papers by Provine in the database and ~5 of them in the manuscript), and indeed I found it. We had:
Provine, R.R.
Provine, R. R.
Provine, Robert R.

The full name and space between initials probably suggested to Zotero that these are three different Provines, and the APA style indeed prescribes to use the initials to disambiguate.

However, I've now adjusted all Provines to "R. R." (with space) and can see no other 'versions' of the name. But still it always appears as (R. R. Provine, 1996) in the text, even after clicking Refresh in the Word Ribbon, and this holds for new citations as well as citations already in the text. The 'Refresh' works, because if I change all to "R.R." (no space), the citations also change to (R.R. Provine, 1996).

Is there another way to convince Zotero that these are all the same Provines and the initals don't need to be shown? Or is it due to another problem?

Kind Regards,
  • The citation processor really only check for equivalence between names, there's no other way that authors get designated as the same or not.

    I'd guess that one of the references isn't connected to Zotero anymore and using metadata stored in the document that still contains an alternate version -- One way to figure this out might be to switch to a citation style that uses full names in the bibliography (e.g. Chicago author-date) and see if that helps figuring out which.

    It's also possible that there is a reference that didn't get properly deleted and is thus invisible -- you would likely be able to find that using show field codes (but it'd show up in the bibliography either way)
  • edited 21 days ago
    Thanks for this, I'll try out the Chicago style to find a potential 'rogue' reference :-)

    BTW, how 'picky' is Zotero in determining whether two first names are the same?
    For example:
    1. R. R. (with space, with periods)
    2. R.R. (without space, with periods)
    3. R R (with space, without periods)
    4. RR (without space, without periods)

    Would all the above be recognised as different authors? (assuming the last name is identical, of course).

    Plus hyphenation:
    5. R-R
    6. R.-R.

    I presume a spelled out first name will always be different to the initials only?
    7. R. R.
    8. Robert R.
    9. Robert-R.
  • Zotero treats 1-3 as the same name, but doesn't recognize 4. (RR) as two initials (so will abbreviate as R. Reich and disambiguate from 1-3).

    Full names are treated different from initials and hyphens are treated much like regular characters, so 5&6 and 8 & 9 are treated as different names from each other and as different from 7.
    I think there's some room for debate here, but in the end, any set of rules is going to be somewhat arbitrary.

    I'm actually surprised that you see R.R. reflected in changing citations: that's not what should happen or what I'm seeing: it should automatically end up as R. R. in APA style.
  • Thanks for the clarifications.
    I can check again, but I'm pretty sure that's what I observed. We use two fields (first and last name in separate fields) in the main Zotero program. When I changed "R.R." to "R. R." in Zotero, it changed in the same way in the Word document (in the in-text citation, I haven't checked the Reference section at the end).
  • Ok, we've played around with this a little more. What seems to do the trick is to switch to another style (we used the Chicago Author-Date) and then back to APA.

    Once I did this, the above example was then just correctly cited as (Provine, 1996).

    However, we have more examples of this (I think the previously used reference manager was less 'picky'), so we had for example
    "(M. Bekoff, 2000) and (Marc Bekoff, 2001)" as in-text citations.

    I changed the Zotero database, so that the author is always specified as Bekoff (last), M. (first), then click 'Refresh' in the Word ribbon, and the in-text citatation change to:
    (M. Bekoff, 2000) and (M. Bekoff, 2001).

    Now I change the reference style to Chicago author-date, and it becomes:
    (Bekoff, 2000) and (Bekoff, 2001).

    When I now change back to APA 7th, it stays like this:
    (Bekoff, 2000) and (Bekoff, 2001).

    Thus, working for us now...
  • Great it's working for you -- Honestly, I don't quite understand how updating/refreshing the citations work (I work on the citation styles, not the Word integration).

    My understanding is that just hitting "Refresh" should be all that's needed, but it's not uncommon that swtiching to a different style and back would be needed to actually update with more significant changes. No idea why.
  • edited 19 days ago
    The only situation I'm aware of where there may be a difference between clicking Refresh and switching to/from another style is if you've modified a citation text in the document but haven't yet refreshed and gotten the modified-citation prompt. Before you get the modified-citation prompt and click Yes to keep your edits and prevent further citation updates, switching to another style will clear any edits you've made. So in the above example, if you had edited the first "(M. Bekoff, 2000)" and hadn't yet refreshed, and then switched to another style, it would be changed to "(Bekoff, 2000)". (To be consistent, it should probably show the same prompt at that point, but manual edits don't really make sense in the context of switching styles anyway.)

    @adomasven might know of other situations where this could happen, but generally speaking what you're describing would be a bug. If you can provide a copy/excerpt of the document from before the change you're able to share, send it to with a link to this thread so that we can try to reproduce this.
  • There has been a bug occasionally where we’ve seen that sort order for citations don’t refresh until the style is changed. This might be the same thing.
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