By Josh Nicholson, CEO, scite
The library and publishing space can be complex to navigate for researchers and students. Increasingly, it seems like more new initiatives and tools are being launched every day, which apparently means there are more and more acronyms in our space.
In my recent post, I took a slight dig at Open Athens and Shibboleth for potentially confusing students and researchers simply because of their names (sorry!). This may be unfair even if meant in jest, and I certainly get annoyed when people comment on the name scite, but I think clarity matters, and I worry that we are simply using too many acronyms, often very unnecessarily.
In today’s post I want to highlight a few acronyms in our space, or DYKLPA (Do you know Library and Publishing Acronyms?). Okay, I just made that up, but that’s kind of the point. We make up acronyms to sell ideas and make things clearer, and often we have the opposite effect. Below is a list of acronyms in our space, what they stand for, and some fake ones to see if you can even tell the difference.
TA: Transformative Agreement
ATG: Against The Grain
APC: Article Processing Charge
COUNTER: Counting Online Usage of NeTworked Electronic Resources
OA: Open Access
CC-BY: Creative Commons – credit must be given to the creator
ALA: American Library Association
AUP: Association of University Presses
LCSH: Library of Congress Subject Headings
MeSH: Medical Subject Headings
ILL: Interlibrary Loan
PMC: PubMed Central
GetFTR: Get Full-Text Research
LOCKSS: Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe
MARC: MAchine-Readable Cataloging
FETCH: Front End Text Collaboration Hub
OAIS: Open Archival Information System
MECA: Manuscript Exchange Common Approach
BLEG: Basement Library Electronic Grinder
OCLC: Online Computer Library Center
CoSA: Council of State Archivists
cOAlition S: c Open Access lition S
CRediT: Contributor Roles Taxonomy
IEEE: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
IEEF: Industrial Energy Efficiency Fund
APA: American Psychological Association
GERM: Granular Enrichment of Resource Materials
APS: American Physiological Society
APS: American Physical Society
SWORD: Scan and revieW of Open Research Data and Software
DOI: Digital Object Identifier
FAIR: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable
ORCID: Open Researcher and Contributor IDentifier
CIG: Cultural Institutions Group
MLA: Modern Language Association
NLM: National Library of Medicine
RIM: Research Information Management
NISO: National Information Standards Organization
PID: Persistent IDentifier
RLUK: Research Libraries UK
SUSHI: Standardized Usage Statistics Harvesting Initiative
DAM: Digital asset management
DRM: Digital rights management
IF: Impact Factor
SI: scite Index (we’re guilty of adding acronym noise!)
ONIX: ONline Information EXchange
PhD: Doctor of Philosophy
The growing use of acronyms is not just for new initiatives, this practice is becoming more common in research papers. A recent study in eLife looked at the usage of acronyms in titles and abstracts of scientific papers over the last 60 years, finding that acronyms in “titles increased from 0.7 per 100 words in 1950 to 2.4 per 100 words in 2019” and acronyms in abstracts “from 0.4 per 100 words in 1956 to 4.1 per 100 words in 2019.” A 342% increase in acronyms in titles and a 1,025% increase in acronyms in abstracts. OMG!
Image reproduced from Barnett, A., and Doubleday, Z. (2020). The growth of acronyms in the scientific literature. eLife 9:e60080. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.60080 under CCBY license.
I am not trying to blame anyone here. Instead, I am trying to get us all to think about our use of acronyms. It’s easy to want to shorten things, especially if you are writing it out a lot, but this can hurt the readability of articles and can just cause unnecessary confusion. Indeed, we have had multiple students email us asking about SciTE, a SCIntilla based Text Editor (scite is not an acronym but Italians do pronounce it as shite).
Let me know if there are any acronyms that you find funny or ones that I might have missed in the comments below or using the hashtag #DYKLPA.
About the Author: Josh Nicholson is co-founder and CEO of scite (scite.ai), an award-winning research tool that helps users better discover, understand, and evaluate research through Smart Citations. Previously, he was founder and CEO of the Winnower and CEO of Authorea (acquired 2018 by Wiley), two companies aimed at improving how scientists publish and collaborate. He holds a PhD in cell biology from Virginia Tech, where his research focused on the effects of aneuploidy on chromosome segregation in cancer.