mblanco at flmnh.ufl.edu
Mon Sep 21 17:36:35 CDT 2009
I agree that journal and author names should not be abbreviated in texts
aimed primarily at non taxonomists, but I think it is good practice to
use the abbreviated forms in systematic papers (at least in botany,
which has standardized and widely accepted abbreviations for both
authors [Brummitt & Powell] and journals [Bridson]).
Standard author abbreviations can immediately disambiguate two or more
authors that have the exact first-middle-last name combination, with a
shorter formula and without having to add the birth/death year in print
(e.g., between the two Henry Smiths listed in IPNI; no middle name
available in either case). As time passes, exact author "homonyms" will
inevitably accumulate more and more.
Many substantial taxonomic revisions, monographs, and especially species
checklists would be much cluttered if the full name is used for authors
and journals (I can think of several papers and books that would have
been several pages longer if standard abbreviations had not been used).
This is the reason most botanical taxonomic journals require the
standard abbreviations. Many experienced botanical taxonomists know the
most important abbreviations from memory, and all are easily found in
the IPNI website.
Now, the situation in other disciplines is a different matter...
-------- Original Message --------
From: Dean Pentcheff <pentcheff at gmail.com>
I couldn't agree more with the desirability of using unabbreviated
information in text documents.
How much paper has been saved by abbreviating journal names? And how
many years of researchers' lives were wasted trying to resolve them?
pentcheff at gmail.com
On Mon, Sep 21, 2009 at 1:30 PM, Geoffrey Read <gread at actrix.gen.nz> wrote:
> Yes. There should be no human disambiguating necessary. The era for
> abbreviating Smith and creating cryptic little code sets of letters
> has gone. Especially for web pages aiming to communicate with the
> un-botanically tutored. Same for all obfuscating abbreviating
> anywhere that has the effect of adding a barrier to comprehension.
> Once the full name has a record as in the IPNI, subsequent uses can
> be in whatever form is appropriate for the situation.
> The three John Smiths I conjured up in IPNI were actually
> disambiguated by their birth-death years, whereas the user
> abbreviations of IPNI for them are hardly intuitive. One of them is
> "J.Sm.Dalry" and I have no idea where the 'Dalry' comes from (I don't
> need to know thanks - just making a point).
> Harping on about one letter abbreviations for genus names again -
> I've just read a paper in which there was a table of character states
> and a tree diagram presented, neither of which had the genera names,
> nor were they conveniently in the captions. So what I had to do to
> understand the paper was go back and forth through the text, find the
> genera names (well dispersed in the text) and pencil them in on the
> table. I shouldn't need to do that and I could have been doing
> something else with the time it took. The authors unnecessarily
> created a barrier to comprehension of their work. Full text rather
> than abbreviations please if possible.
> On Mon, September 21, 2009 6:39 pm, Paul Kirk wrote:
> > You conveniently didn't answer the question - which was - would you
> > support (promote) the use of 'Smith' for all 120 Smith's rather
> > than an unambiguous abbreviation?
> And elsewhere:
> > So, who mentioned databases and primary keys? The string of
> > characters is for human consumption to disambiguate.
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