How-to series: How to merge author names [part 1 of 12]

Features, many and useful features. That is what this blog post series is going to be about. If you’ve used Mendeley for a while, you’ll probably already have picked up on some of the following features and tips we’ll be showcasing over the next few weeks. However, I’m sure even some of these will be new to most of our readers, Mendeley veterans or newcomers.

Today’s how-to is a really nice and simple one: how to merge author names.

As you accumulate research papers and references in your library, you’ll find that sometimes the same author may be published with variations of the same name. P. Harvey, Pete Harvey, P. S. Harvey, etc. If this is in fact the same person, it becomes a bit of a mess if you want to filter your references by Author Name. In this case, you can use a simple technique to merge author names together to a single name of your choosing.
Here’s a quick step by step look at how this is accomplished:

  1. In the top left panel, select “All Documents”.
  2. Now, in the bottom left panel, scroll to the author name(s) you’d like to merge.
  3. Select the author name that you want to change and drag it onto the name that you want to keep.
  4. Click OK to accept the merge if that’s what you want.

Here’s a nice short video showing how this is done:

Our next entry in this twelve-part how-to series will show you how to easily drag and drop a PDF or PDF link into Mendeley Desktop for easy import. Stay tuned.

4 thoughts on “How-to series: How to merge author names [part 1 of 12]

  1. There is something problematic with this feature: I think that papers should be cited in the way they are published. Sometimes people change their names, and we should not cite an article under a different name from that with which it was published. So, for me, this feature would be useful if you could link different author names to each other, so that when you filter by one of them you also get the entries for the others, but without having to unify the name associated to each specific piece.

  2. A difficulty I have with merging author names (at least using 1.3.1 on my Mac), is that there’s no distinction between an author name and the more subtle variations of ‘how the person gave their name on that particular paper’. I’d love to have a single canonical entry for author name, but not give up the different names, because otherwise the citations become inaccurate.

    For example, I don’t want to change all examples of ‘Peter Harvey’ to ‘Peter S Harvey’, even if they are the same person, because that changes the citation format for the papers that should be cited as being by ‘Harvey, P.’, to ‘Harvey, P. S.’.

  3. I agree with Oriol. Merging author names shouldn’t be needed. What is desperately needed is more intelligent search/filtering. So searching for “Bloggs J” should bring up articles by Bloggs J, Bloggs JB, Bloggs J.B., Bloggs, Joe B …. etc.

  4. That’s a very insightful comment. Author name disambiguation is a huge problem in the literature and has been addressed in various ways by indvidual databases in the past for their own collections, but there’s currently a project called ORCID in the works which aims to provide a standard way of solving the author name disambiguation problem in a similar fashion to the DNS and DOI registries for websites and digital research objects. We hope to be able to implement this system soon. In the meantime, if it’s important to you to cite an author as J. Bloggs and Joe Bloggs for different papers, I recommend keeping both variants of the name and not merging them.

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