A Bold Statement

Excessive use of abbreviations is decried both in an article (K.S. Brown, The Scientist, Jan. 20, 1997, page 16) and in a subsequent letter to the editor (S.A. Lederman, The Scientist, Feb. 17, 1997, page 13). All the problems mentioned for abbreviations apply equally well to the use of names of people in articles. Generally, that is not an issue in research reports, but it is a major problem in news and commentary. Such articles commonly refer to several different individuals, and each person

Gerald Bartlett
Mar 16, 1997

Excessive use of abbreviations is decried both in an article (K.S. Brown, The Scientist, Jan. 20, 1997, page 16) and in a subsequent letter to the editor (S.A. Lederman, The Scientist, Feb. 17, 1997, page 13).

All the problems mentioned for abbreviations apply equally well to the use of names of people in articles. Generally, that is not an issue in research reports, but it is a major problem in news and commentary. Such articles commonly refer to several different individuals, and each person's affiliation is described only when that person is first "introduced." That is fine for those individuals who read the article in a linear, A-to-Z fashion. However, for anyone who reads such articles in bits and pieces, it is extremely confusing and time-consuming to try to figure out who the people are who are cited only by their last names.

This...

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