Author disambiguation: Exclude homonyms

Publish or Perish tutorial

Note: This tutorial was originally written for Publish or Perish v4 and all screenshots come from this version. However, the information as such is also applicable for later versions of Publish or Perish.

When searching for an author who only publishes with one initial in Publish or Perish, you can exclude academics with the same last name and first initial (but with multiple initials rather than one initial) through the use of *.

One step search for academics with a single initial

For instance Graham Sewell, one of my former Melbourne colleagues, has only published as “G Sewell”. One can exclude other academics with the same last name and first initial by using “G* Sewell”, “G** Sewell”, “G*** Sewell” in the Exclude these authors field. This would exclude “GJ Sewell”, “GW Sewell”, “GWF Sewell” “GJTP Sewell” as well as dozens of other combinations in one go.


Please note: In Publish or Perish version 5, you will need to put these exclusions in the None of the words field.

Limitations of this strategy

Unfortunately, you cannot use “*G Sewell” to exclude “EG Sewell” or “RG Sewell” as this excludes all names with a “G” in them, including “G Sewell”, our target academic. Hence, these need to be excluded one by one, as do those with only one initial but another given name (e.g. “Gary Sewell”).

Remember the quotes

Also, as before, remember to quote the exclusions. If you exclude G* Sewell, Google Scholar will interpret his as excluding both G and Sewell, thus leaving you with no results at all.

All your queries are saved for future use

You do not need to enter these exclusions again every time you do the same search. All your searches are automatically saved in the multi-query center. I’ll tell you more about that in future tips, but you can take a peak now if you want. You will find all the queries you have ever run there.

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