How can we improve RefWorks?

Change Write-n-Cite 4.5 so that multiple authors with the same surname are distinguished by a suffix (a,b etc) on the date.

WnC 4.5 deals with authors that have the same surname differently to WnC 4.4. Our style is based on a version of Harvard and in WnC 4.4 in text citations for authors with the same surname are given the suffix of a,b etc onto the date e.g: (Smith, 2008a), (Smith, 2008b) to distinguish them. In the new version (4.5) if these authors have different initials, then that is added into the citation e.g: (A. Smith, 2008), (B. Smith, 2008).

If the citations in question have different years - then initials are added to that as well e.g: (A. Smith, 2008), (C. Smith, 1956).

Even if there are multiple different authors and a different date, then initials are still added e.g: (A. Smith, 2008), (D. Smith, Brown and Jones, 1968).

This does cause an issue if the same author has published using different initials (as I have) as this would fool WnC into thinking it's a different author. So in that case the user would need to ensure that an author has the same initials for all their publications - which would mean being sure that an author is indeed who they think it is and also wouldn't that mean (if the details are changed) the reference is 'wrong'?

This is apparently due to a change with the way APA styles deal with this issue - but could this be changed so that non-APA styles
are unaffected?

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Peter Stokes shared this idea  ·   ·  Admin →

6 comments

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  • Tore Ståhl commented  · 

    I have a related problem that I have reported as a bug, but that Refworks support doesn't seem to acknowledge.
    I'm citing two journal articles with the same first author and year, but article A having five co-authors and article B having two co-authors. The Harvard style handles them correctly but all APA styles fail:
    The first time I cite them, A is cited as (author1 et al., 2017) and B as (author1, author2, & author3, 2017) which is correct. However, all succeeding citations are displayed as (author1 et al., 2017). Thus, the reader will not know if I'm citing A or B.
    And yes, all data are correct in the database records, the correct output in Harvard confirms that. I actually have several "pairs" of references like A and B, and the same problem appears with all of them.

  • KM commented  · 

    I am having this exact problem. I can no longer use Refworks as it does not confirm to my institution's referencing requirements. When speaking to someone from Refworks they were unable to grasp why this is an issue and can't offer a solution for it, this needs addressing urgently.

  • Anonymous commented  · 

    This needs changing ASAP, it is causing us a lot of problems, perhaps we need to look for an alternative to Refworks?

  • Jaakko Litmanen commented  · 

    Kind of similar problem with two articles by the same main author released the same year. The style I'm using is supposed to allow only one author shown in the citation, unless there is two authors. Now the citation prints three names to differentiate between the two articles instead of the a/b suffix. The amount of names in the citation should never be overridden! This has worked well in the past but it seems the current version doesn't.

  • Adam Edwards commented  · 

    This change does not conform to proper Harvard Referencing so makes a mockery of WnC as a usable resource. This needs an urgent fix lest it become an academic complaint issue.

  • Katharine Thompson commented  · 

    This change doesn't make any sense as the initials are added even in citations where authors with the same surname have published in different years. If you have the same author publishing in different years the a, b etc is not added as, presumably, RefWorks does not consider them to be ambiguous. So why are different authors publishing in different years not dealt with in the same way? It's very annoying!

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