3

Scenario:

My own version: The authors in [5,6,7] focused on the problems associated with the production of X.

[5] ABC et al 2018

[6] DEF et al 2018

[7] GHI et al 2019

A corrected version from editorial production team:

ABC and Co-workers [5,6,7] focused on the problems associated with the production of X.

Question: Can one say: ABC et al, DEF et al. and GHI et al. [5,6,7] focused on the problems associated with the production of X?

  • I don't understand your style. I mean I'd have used A et al, D et al and G et al. the et al (i.e. et alia, and others) is there to refer to BC, EF and HI. It does not make sense to write ABC et al if ABC are all the authors of the paper. – Giacomo Alzetta Sep 5 '18 at 12:39
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    ABC is the name of the first author of the first paper i.e Ref [5] and so on – Abdulhameed Sep 5 '18 at 13:09
  • Just a tip: if you want to put a placeholder for a name either use a name Thomas et al or use a single letter A et al. A sequence of 3 uppercase letters does not look like a name and hence why I interpreted it as if it was A, B, C instead. – Giacomo Alzetta Sep 6 '18 at 7:25
10

You should check with the typesetters/publication team for their style guide and make sure they realize that 5, 6, 7 are different groups if that is the case. Clearly the version they rewrote assumes they are from the same group. That might still be appropriate if the author lists differ but the senior author/laboratory is consistent.

Your last example is fine, but may or may not comport to their preferred style.

  • 1
    Thank you so much for this response. The authors are absolutely different so I guess I should inform them about this. – Abdulhameed Sep 5 '18 at 6:17
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    @Abdulhameed Yeah it just looks like an oversight on their part. Unfortunate but that's why they have you check it over. :) – Bryan Krause Sep 5 '18 at 6:20
5

ABC et al, DEF et al. and GHI et al. [5,6,7] focused on the problems associated with the production of X?

Yes, but it is perhaps better to write

ABC et al. [5], DEF et al. [6] and GHI et al. [7] focused on the problems associated with the production of X

because the relation between the authors and citations is preserved. Alternatively,

ABC et al., DEF et al. and GHI et al. focused on the problems associated with the production of X [5,6,7].

which is (subjectively) easier to read.

  • 1
    I would go with "Several authors [5,6,7] have focused on the problems associated with the production of X." – JeffE Sep 5 '18 at 13:29
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    @JeffE The editorial team didn't seem to like that one – user2768 Sep 5 '18 at 13:34
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    It's your paper. Copy editors will often back down if you insist on something reasonable. – JeffE Sep 5 '18 at 13:38
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    @JeffE Forcing the copy editors to back down is a solution. – user2768 Sep 5 '18 at 13:43
4

How about rewriting the sentence to remove the word "authors" altogether?

Other groups [5-7] focused on the problems associated with the production of X?

or

Other groups focused on the problems associated with the production of X [5-7]?

This way [5-7] is not part of the sentence (which presumably is why the journal does not like your original version) and you do not have to put 3 "et al." in a row.

  • I'm not a fan of this solution. I feel that, in most situations, researchers should be credited by name, at least at the first mention of their work. – David Richerby Sep 5 '18 at 14:36
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    @DavidRicherby Researchers are already credited by name - it's in the reference list. The point of numerical referencing styles is that individual names are rarely mentioned in the main text, and only when explicitly called for. I would go further than this answer, though, and edit to something like "Further work focused on the problems associated with the production of X [5-7]". – E.P. Sep 5 '18 at 17:13
  • @E.P. No, the point of numerical reference styles is simply that they make the reference short. Choosing (or being told) to use numerical references is in no way inconsistent with mentioning the authors' names in the article body. – David Richerby Sep 5 '18 at 17:21
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    @DavidRicherby It's perfectly valid to mention authors' names in the article body, but it is simply not required if the reference list is numerical. Perhaps some fields or journals do require it, but the practice is by no means universal - and I would put serious money on it being a severly minoritarian approach, if it exists at all. – E.P. Sep 5 '18 at 18:26
1

The journal copy-editors have misunderstood what you wrote and made a mistake: they obviously didn't notice that the three author groups were unrelated and they've mistakenly rewritten the text to refer to all the work as being done by the first group. You should correct their "correction" in whatever way seems to meet the journal style, if a description of the preferred style is available; otherwise, explain the problem to them and let them fix it.

This kind of thing happens relatively often because the copy-editors are not technical experts. I recently had a paper in a journal whose house style forbids talking about the text "below" or "above" and whose copy-editors religiously replace these with "in the following" and "in the preceding" or somesuch. So, every time we had written "we bound x below", meaning "we give a lower bound for x", the copy-editors thought we meant "we give a bound for x in the text below" and helpfully changed it to "we bound x in the following".

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