Among the many ways in which journals
differ in the way they expect authors to format references is the way names of
journals are given-whether spelt out in full or abbreviated (Current Science versus Curr. Sci., for example). The
abbreviations may also be different - journal being shortened to simply J or to
Jnl - but, fortunately, are practically standardized now. This post offers some
tips on dealing with the abbreviations.
up references in a recent issue of the target journal. In most cases, authors
of papers published in your target journal will have already cited the journal
title that you need to abbreviate. Examine a few published papers on the same
topic published in the target journal to see if the journal title in question
is listed and use the same abbreviation.
up the websites of abstracting and indexing services. Because
abstracting and indexing services cover thousands of journals and typically
abbreviate their names, websites of Chemical
Abstracts (publishers of CASSI, or the Chemical Abstracts Service Source
Index)  and BIOSIS (BIOSIS Serial Sources) are likely to include the journal
title you are looking for.
comprehensive source is ‘All That JAS', or Journal Abbreviation Sources ,
which points visitors to Internet resources, organized by disciplines (from
Agriculture and Anthropology to Religion and Veterinary Medicine) that provide full
titles of journals and abbreviations of those titles.
the title from the standard abbreviations of its constituent words. If you wish to
abbreviate Malaysian Journal of Oncology,
for example, and cannot find the title, you can build up the abbreviation using Malay. for Malaysian, J. for journal, and Oncol. for Oncology because this is how these words are
abbreviated according to ISSN. Standard abbreviations for common words are available at the ISSN website: http://www.issn.org/2-22661-LTWA-online.php.
not abbreviate single-word titles. Names of journals that run to only one word
- Nature and Science, to cite two famous examples - are not abbreviated.
the target journal's style for abbreviations. Journals differ in whether they
end the abbreviated words with a dot, whether they print the abbreviated titles
in italics, and whether they capitalize every significant word in the title.
Examine the style used by your target journal and follow that.
prosper" is a series of posts about tips for researchers whose first
language is not English but who submit papers to journals published in English.
The series touches upon not only writing (spelling, grammar, punctuation,
usage, and style) but everything else relevant to publishing research papers
that journal editors wish their authors knew.]
Among the different kinds of source documents that researchers cite, the most frequent form is papers published in journals. Earlierblogposts have covered different elements or parts of a typical reference (year of publication and the volume number, issue number, and page numbers). However, the exact title or name of a journal – whether abbreviated or given in full – is probably the second most important element of a typical reference, next only to names of authors.
In rendering the name or title of a journal, the first question is whether the name should be abbreviated: Journal of Biological Chemistry or J Biol Chem? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences or Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.? Using journal names in full is a straightforward matter unless the journal is published in a language other than English (which requires a separate blog post).
If the title is abbreviated, how is it to be abbreviated? As with most matters related to references, there is no universally accepted system. The word journal, for example, can be abbreviated to just J or to Jnl. Single-word titles (Nature, Cell, and Euphytica, for example) are, however, always printed in full. Medical journals generally rely on PubMed or Index Medicus; biological journals, on the BIOSIS List of Serials; and chemical journals, on CASSI (Chemical Abstracts Service Source Index).
If the titles are abbreviated, should each abbreviated word end with a full stop or left ‘open’ (that is, without any punctuation)? Should it be Chem or Chem.? Abbreviations sometimes introduce ambiguity: is Trop Agric Tropical Agriculturist or Tropical Agriculture? In such cases, usually the place of publication is supplied for correct identification, as in Trop Agric (Colombo) or Trop Agric (Trinidad).
Then there is typography, although most journals use italics for titles of journals, abbreviated or otherwise.
Perhaps the simplest advice to researchers is this: Examine a recent issue of the journal to which you plan to submit your paper and see how the journal handles references.
["Publish and prosper" is a series of posts about tips for researchers whose first language is not English but who submit papers to journals published in English. The series touches upon not only writing (spelling, grammar, punctuation, usage, and style) but everything else relevant to publishing research papers that journal editors wish their authors knew. ]