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In an article I have under review, one reviewer took issue with my use of the citation "(Smith et al., 2005; Smith et al., 2006)." They suggested that it be changed to "(Smith et al., 2005, 2006)." Normally, I agree that this is the correct change.

My problem is that the "et al." in these two citations are actually different groups of coauthors. I think their suggestion implies that the authorship of the two articles is identical, but it is not. If my two articles had been published in the same year, I understand that I should list one or more coauthors to differentiate the works (eg., "Smith, Doe, et al., 2005; Smith, Smythe, et al., 2005).

Should I do this as well in the current situation, or is it appropriate to take the reviewer's suggestion and lump the citations together? To be clear, this reviewer is suggesting the change to match APA 7 guidelines, not any special guidelines of the journal, but the authors are asked to follow APA 7 guidelines. I'm just having trouble figuring out what the guidelines recommend in this situation, and I'm not sure that the reviewer noticed that the coauthors are not the same in both references.

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Do the most the journal allows to disambiguate the references so that your reader can easily see what's going on.

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    And I'd suggest ignoring the reviewer's opinions and leaving it to the journal after acceptance to specify any change...
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Sep 6, 2022 at 15:45

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