[Web4lib] Authors name standardization. Your opinion?

Tomas Baiget baiget at sarenet.es
Sat Nov 11 05:28:12 EST 2006

Dear colleagues,


Since many years ago I've been searching online databases and always had to fight with the problem of authors names inconsistencies, both because of the database policy on the names format, or more frequently because the author signs differently each article.

I had imagined that "some day" the problem would desappear, but, on the contrary, I realize that it is growing because currently there are a lot more of new information resources.

In part, this problem is a matter of the database (or the resource) producers, but mainly it is a matter of the authors awareness.

In Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries, as you might know, people sign using more words than in English. It is frequent the use of a double first name and a double family name (father's family name + mother's family name). Some times even family names are compound. Example:
Pérez Álvarez-Ossorio, José Ramón

In case of having to shorten their names, people give more importance to the father's name, except if this name is very common, in which case probably the person will want to use always the two names (in my example, Pérez is as much frequent as Smith in English). This has lead to a big problem when trying to standardize the names, because you find a lot of variations as normally the own individuals haven't decided a fix form yet.

I'm the director of a Spanish LIS journal indexed since January 2006 in the database Social SCI (Thomson ISI), and I have realized how deceived some authors are when they see themselves indexed at the SSCI database by their mother's family name (when American people see a three words name, they take the last one as the database entry).
An author like Imma Subirats Coll, who is the Co-ordinator of the E-LIS repository:
has that official name written on her passport and she is "Ms Subirats" for everybody who knows her. But if she signs an article with her full name, it will appear indexed in ISI as "Coll, IS".

Of course this is not important for everybody, but it is for academic people.

Therefore, an important format to take into account is the ISI one (or, in general, "English format"): 
In order to avoid confusion people always should sign with two strings: one for the first name and one for the family name. In order to avoid inconsistency problems, the above Spaniard should choose one of these forms and keep it forever:

Perez-Alvarez-Ossorio, Jose-Ramon
P.-Alvarez-Ossorio, Jose-Ramon
P.-Alvarez-Ossorio, Jose-R.

I have removed the accents; I doubt if we should remove the dots as well.

Well, this could be a "solution" for Spanish (and Portuguese, I guess) speaking countries --although it will be difficult to convince some people to follow this rule at the first try-.

But what do you think about the authors names in other countries? Could you apply some similar rule? In English there are also some "problems" with people adding more words to their names.

Thank you very much for you attention. I'd appreciate very much your comments on this.

Tomas Baiget


Elis-editors mailing list
Elis-editors at lists.openlib.org

More information about the Web4lib mailing list