Journal journeys: Day -2, The long and short of it

Consider this a post for pedants, perhaps.

Here we are with a new journal on the horizon, Nature Chemistry, so one question we must ask ourselves is this – what do we abbreviate it to? Simple, huh? Surely it should be ‘Nat. Chem.’? But wait, what about ‘Nature Chem.’?

Well, let’s start by looking at other NPG titles. Some of those based in London, such as Nature Materials (Nature Mater.), Nature Physics (Nature Phys.) and Nature Nanotechnology (Nature Nanotech.), all use the full ‘Nature’ bit, but Nature Protocols (Nat. Protoc.) does not! Let’s cross the Atlantic to journals based in the States, such as Nature Chemical Biology (Nat. Chem. Biol.) and Nature Biotechnology (Nat. Biotechnol.) and you’ll see that they use the ‘Nat’ form as well… Is your head spinning yet?

Also, notice the difference in abbreviation between Nature Nanotech. and Nat. Biotechnol. – whereas ‘Nanotechnology’ is shortened to ‘Nanotech.’, ‘Biotechnology’ is trimmed – albeit only slightly! – to ‘Biotechnol.’… The copy-editing powers-that-be tell me that the word ‘Technology’ should be abbreviated as ‘Technol.’, because the word ‘Technical’ would be indicated by the shortened form ‘Tech.’ – still with me?

So, ‘Nature Nanotech.’ breaks all the rules… and it means we often see ourselves cited as ‘Nat. Nanotechnol.’, or ‘Nat. Nanotech.’ or ‘Nature Nanotechnol.’ – all of which are, technically, wrong.

Now, let’s get started on other journals. Here at NPG, we abbreviate Angewandte Chemie to Angew. Chem. Int. Edn (assuming we’re not talking about papers published before 1998, which still include the ‘Engl.’ bit…). This generally causes our more chemistry-oriented authors to correct their proofs by scoring through the ‘n’ of ‘Edn’ and telling us that it should be ‘Ed.’ not ‘Edn’. I agree with the authors, but I am told that we shorten ‘Edition’ to ‘Edn’ because ‘Ed.’ means ‘Editor’… anybody out there still reading?

My response to this argument is that we’re citing the name of a journal, not just a random collection of words, so we should use ‘Ed.’, but we don’t. At least we’re not alone in getting it wrong, ACS journals insist on putting a comma after the ‘Angew. Chem.’ bit..! Note in all of this, that there is no full-stop at the end of ‘Edn’ – that’s because ‘n’ is the last letter of ‘Edition’ and so we don’t need one. This, of course, creates confusion as well, because most people out there cite things like PNAS as ‘Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA’ with a full-stop after ‘Natl’. Of course, we don’t… we go with ‘Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA’ because ‘l’ is the last letter of… OK, you get it. No matter, authors still correct that one on their proofs too… (PNAS itself doesn’t even use full-stops…).

If you’ve made it this far – congratulations. I think we’re going with ‘Nature Chem.’ – but it won’t really matter as I’m guessing that ISI will index it as ‘Nat.’ Chem.’ anyway… they abbreviate Nature Nanotechnology to ‘Nat. Nanotechnol.’…


Stuart Cantrill (Senior Editor, Nature Nanotechnology)