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I have two citations of groups of authors (same lead author) from the same year. Thus, in-text I am using (Smith et al. 2001a) and (Smith et al. 2001b).

For the bibliography should I list these references in the order that there were cited (2001a followed by 2001b) even if this bucks the alphabetic ordering of the overall bibliography? For example

Smith, A., Zelda, C., Yates, A., Foley, C. 2001a. ...
Smith, A., Banes, C., Yates, A., Foley, C. 2001b. ...

Or should I do the reverse?

Smith, A., Banes, C., Yates, A., Foley, C. 2001b. ...
Smith, A., Zelda, C., Yates, A., Foley, C. 2001a. ...

I'm thinking it should be the second option.

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  • Consult the guidelines of the journal; for the author-year citation style, it's usual (at least from my experience) to list first all single-author papers of the author in chronological order, and then multi-author paper also in chronological order. For the letters a and b: they are used locally, in each paper uniquely, and should be in order of appearance of the reference in the bibliography. So that if a was published before b, but you first cite b and then a - that's all fine. But each journal have their own rules, that can be as specific as the placement of the comma.
    – user68958
    Aug 14 '18 at 12:14
  • Thanks for the feedback. In terms of the bibliography yes, single author first then multi-author. Chronological ordering gives way to alphabetical ordering where the years are the same. If I understand you correctly you are saying that the order of the letters appended to same year author & year in-text citations is dictated by the order of those references in the bibliography, which seems to make sense. I was working under the assumption that these letters should always be ordered by the order that they appear in the text but that would lead to an out of order bibliography as above
    – Beeman
    Aug 14 '18 at 16:43
  • In the future, you might like to consider LaTeX/BibTeX, then you can focus on the writing and not worry about these things (they are taken care of automatically).
    – user2768
    Aug 21 '18 at 12:46
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What you need to do: Find out the rules of the journal. For many journals, your paper will not even be sent for review until the production staff has checked that the references are in exactly the required format.

What you may want to support: Some journals in my field have started a policy to list all authors (up to three or four) in the text of the paper: so it might be 'Smith, Zelda, Yates (2001)'. The idea is that this gives name recognition to young, minority, and women authors, who tend to be less often listed first. This policy evolved as influential authors (some of whom serve on publication boards) began to insist on a change toward listing multiple names.

It helps that papers with long lists of authors are not especially common in my field. Also, 'Smith, Hernandes, Chan (2013)' doesn't take much more space than 'Smith et al. (2013)' and no journal budget seems to have suffered from the change.

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  • thank you, though in this case I am outlining the style guidelines for a journal myself and wanted to ensure the instructions were clear. The answer is that letters appending same author same year in-text citations should always follow the order that these references appear in the bibliography, regardless of the order of the in text citations themselves in the flow of the text.
    – Beeman
    Aug 21 '18 at 12:25
  • That sounds reasonable. // In general, I think you'll get better advice if you explain your situation and goals clearly.
    – BruceET
    Aug 21 '18 at 16:20
  • sorry there does seem to have been some confusion but I really did try to make the question explicit: "For the bibliography should I list these references in the order that there were cited (2001a followed by 2001b) even if this bucks the alphabetic ordering of the overall bibliography?" - the more I think about this the less I believe it is an issue of journal style and and is probably a core part of the harvard referencing system.
    – Beeman
    Aug 22 '18 at 18:42
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Letters appending same author same year in-text citations should always follow the order that these references appear in the bibliography, regardless of the order of the in-text citations themselves within in the flow of the text.

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