Why does NLM still use journal title abbreviations rather than the full journal title in its citations?

Journal title abbreviations are a useful shorthand technique to represent the full title of a journal. The shorter length is advantageous for displays both online (for mobile apps and online databases) and in printed lists of references. In the online environment, NLM has provided a mouse-over display of the journal title abbreviation in PubMed® citations to reveal the full journal title as well as a display of the full journal title in the MEDLINE® and XML display options. The NLM Catalog database is another tool to decode the NLM journal title abbreviations.

NLM also collaborates with the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) with regard to the format of references in bibliographies for journal articles (see ICMJE Recommendations). The ICMJE bases its recommended citation format on the NLM style which is, in turn, an interpretation of a national standard (NISO/ANSI Z39.29-2005 (R2010) Bibliographic References). Many publishers still produce print versions of journals where the space in the journal is at a premium.

Below is an example of a journal title abbreviation and its corresponding full journal title to illustrate differences in length:

J Electromyogr Kinesiol

Journal of electromyography and kinesiology : official journal of the International Society of Electrophysiological Kinesiology

Feedback from the user/scientific author/publishing communities supports NLM providing journal title abbreviations for them to use.  For more information, see Construction of the National Library of Medicine Title Abbreviations.

For more information on the MEDLINE®/PubMed® citation format please see: MEDLINE®/PubMed® Journal Article Citation Format.

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Topic Information
  • Topic #: 28045-1732
  • Date Created: 03/01/2017
  • Last Modified Since: 03/01/2018
  • Viewed: 96