Best practice guide?

I am writing a very short piece for my students on "best practices" in using Zotero for their work, but it occurs to me that maybe someone else has already written something like this? Does anyone know of such a guide and where I might find it?

Because students will need to use APA, I considered some of the following recommendations so that the references output correctly:
- Ensure that the title for all articles, books, etc is in sentence case. Zotero can convert to title case if need be.
- The journal field needs to have the full journal title (APA doesn't use abbreviated titles for journals). (For styles that require abbreviated titles, add the abbreviated title to the Journal Abbr field only.)
- If a book chapter or book has a DOI, add it in the Extra field as "DOI: [DOI string]."
- Use tags to organise your entries; it will help you to find them later. You may wish to turn off the automatic tags function.
- Etc, etc.
  • edited August 4, 2020
    The names of each author of multiple works should be edited so that every record has exactly the same name and the full name (lastname, firstname middlename) whenever possible. This way correct name disambiguation can be done by Zotero. [M. Jones, Mary Jones, MA Jones, Mary A. Jones should all be entered as Mary Ann Jones if that is the author's name]

    However, verify that authors with common names are not this way merged in error: Mary Agnes Jones shouldn't be confused with some other Mary A. Jones.
  • That's a good point regarding name disambiguation. I had been wondering, from a bibliographic rather than a technical point of view, whether this should be done. For instance, if in one work the same author gives their name as Mary Jones, but in another work they give their name as Mary A. Jones, should I modify the former entry to make it the same as the latter?

    This would certainly help with disambiguation, as you point out, but it somehow feels "wrong" from a bibliographic standpoint to include information that isn't contained within the source itself. That is, if someone consulted the source, regardless of what my citation says, they would only see "Mary Jones," and if that's all the information they had then presumably their citation would be different to mine. I'd be interested in how others feel about this?
  • I don't have style guides handy right now and will not for the rest of the day. Someone else here might be able to cite chapter and verse. Both APA and Chicago in previous revisions stated specifically that the most complete name form should be used for all uses of the name.
  • edited August 4, 2020
    In the current edition, Turabian says this about authors' names: "Give authors' names exactly as they appear at the heads of their articles."
  • edited August 4, 2020
    I was able to find the standards for the previous versions of APA and Chicago.

    Chicago: “Authors’ names are normally given as they appear on the title pages of their books or above their articles. Certain adjustments, however, should be made to assist correct identification. First names may be given in full in place of initials. If an author uses his or her given name in one cited book and initials in another the same form, preferably the fuller one, should be used in all references to that author. To assist alphabetization, middle initials or names should be given wherever known”. [¶14.72]

    Similarly, APA Guideline 6.27.

    @adamsmith @damnation Have there been changes with the newer versions of the style guides?
  • Chicago has kept this the same in the 17th edition, yes (now 14.73). Turabian is a student manual. Every place it diverges from Chicago Manual is bad. I have no idea why people use it for citations; they shouldn't.
  • That's a bit annoying given that some authors seem to constantly switch between, for example, "Mary Jones" and "Mary A. Jones," even for articles published in different volumes of the same journal.
  • edited August 4, 2020
    This is an issue that drives OCD-prone indexers (me) more than a little nuts.

    Unlike authors of fiction who commonly write under a pen-name, I think most scholarly authors want full credit for their body of work.

    Responsibility for author name presentation isn't fixed to the individual author. Some responsibility rests with the journal editor -- the exact name used by the author on the manuscript is not necessarily the name that will appear in the published version. Some editors will abbreviate names in the middle of the order of authorship. Some journals have a policy that initials are always the name-form used instead of first and middle names. I know of a few journals that always drop name suffixes such as "Jr." or "III". There is an engineering journal that will sometimes shorten the name of well-known authors who attend lots of friendly conferences with their nickname (for example first names "Richard initial" to "Dick" contrary to the author's preference).

    At least in the health and medical field, with studies that arise from a long-term project led by a prominent "star", the fullness of names of individual authors -- even the name of the primary author -- is at the whim of the star final author (who may have had little to do with conducting this component of the study or with the actual authorship. Even full professors' names on a manuscript are regulated by "more senior" project principal investigator.

    I've corresponded with one author in my database who has three given names and a hyphenated last name. She has always submitted her name the same mostly-complete way [firstname initial initial lastname-lastname] but journal editors do necessarily publish by her preference. Although she has always published under her own name as her publications began long before she was married, one British publication (without informing her beforehand) added her husband's surname and dropped everything else except her first name.

    edited to correct fat-fingered and false spell-checks while typing on a tablet.

    edit 2: There is one author with over 100 publications in my online database with, as I recall, 7 variations of their name. We try to make it so that all names are uniform. Thus I recall the number of name "corrections". The art of name coordination is an effort. Identifying potential matches can be facilitated by a probability test. We assign weights to co-authors in common, topic of research in common, years of publication, the author's own list of publications on their institution's webpage, and other factors. Certainty is essential. If there is any doubt we contact the author (often unsuccessfully) before merging names.

    edit 3
    An equally troublesome issue is keeping the works of different authors who share a common name apart. Here VIAF and ORCID help but even these "authorities" are often confused.
  • I've a question about journal names. Should they be sentence case or title case in Zotero? Do styles make changes to the casing of journal names (suggesting that they be edited to sentence case in Zotero). I note that Zotero offers case conversion for the journal name field. Full journal names' casing are provided differently depending on the database providing the metadata -- PubMed uses sentence case, TRID and AGRICOLA use title case (to mention three US government-supported databases. My own standard is sentence case. Some databases even provide lower-case journal abbreviations.
  • @DWL-SDCA I understand your passion about these things but please be careful about hijacking threads. The question about journal names is definitely for a new thread.
  • @DWL-SDCA, I share that exact concern, and thank-you for providing some context. I have a relatively simple name, so I've never experienced anything like what you've described, but it helps to know that, in many cases, the final presentation (Mary Jones vs. Mary A. Jones) is not necessarily the author's decision, nor their fault when there are discrepancies. It sucks for those of us trying to do right by the authors in ensuring they are appropriately cited.

    In terms of "best practices," on the basis of current style guides, it sounds like the best recommendation would indeed be to keep names consistent and always provide the most complete name.
  • edited August 5, 2020
    I'm going to defend my question about journal names in that the OP raised the issue of sentence case vs title case for article titles. I asked if there might be a similar recommendation for journal titles. There is a right-click quick conversion tool for journal names but I don't recall any discussion of this nor could I find anything in the forum archives. My question is not only for my own curiosity but I think that this is an issue directly relevant to the request for "best practices". Is there a recommended practice for entering journal names? @adamsmith I was anticipating an answer about that from you. I am sorry that my question seemed to jar you. Please reconsider and answer the question related to best practices. I realize that my reply to the questions about author names got long-winded but that was in response to the statement of annoyance by @sciwonder .

    edit: The case issue especially arises when journal titles from publishers are in all-caps. I don't refer to obvious things such as JAMA but to titles with several words.
  • I'm not jarred by the question, which is perfectly legitimate, but this is what this thread was asking about:
    I am writing a very short piece for my students on "best practices" in using Zotero for their work
    I think we're pretty clearly getting off track here. This isn't something that Zotero beginners need to think about or be told.
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