Short Shrift For Abbreviations

The article "Scientific Journal Articles Say Polished Prose Clarifies Research" [K.S. Brown, The Scientist, Jan. 20, 1997, page 16] raised several points of interest. One point particularly caught my attention, because it repeatedly affects my reading of articles: the issue of abbreviations in journals. The article states: "[Peggy] Robinson at CBE [the Council of Biology Editors Inc.] agrees that abbreviations have gotten out of hand-and into titles, captions, and so forth. 'Scientists have got

Sally Ann Lederman
Feb 16, 1997

The article "Scientific Journal Articles Say Polished Prose Clarifies Research" [K.S. Brown, The Scientist, Jan. 20, 1997, page 16] raised several points of interest. One point particularly caught my attention, because it repeatedly affects my reading of articles: the issue of abbreviations in journals. The article states: "[Peggy] Robinson at CBE [the Council of Biology Editors Inc.] agrees that abbreviations have gotten out of hand-and into titles, captions, and so forth. 'Scientists have gotten this tendency to use abbreviations for anything that has two words in it.'"

I immediately found myself doing what I am always doing when reading journal articles, searching for a box that would tell me what the abbreviation CBE means. As in the other journals, no such box was found. Rapidly scanning the article's text did not reveal the place where the abbreviation first appeared, where it was defined.

This may seem like...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?