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I am currently wading through a new area of scientific
literature, much of it published in the last decade. Almost
journals impose strict page- or word-limits on their
publications, most of which exist in both paper and digital
editions. For this reason, abbreviations are often very
Some abbreviations are well-known and would be tedious to
read in full (DNA, for example). But many are not at all
known. For instance, just now I am reading a review article
which is about 10 pages long, and it begins with a list of
60 abbreviations; very few of them are "standard" - they
just been invented by the authors to save space.
The use of abbreviations is all very well and etc, and may be
justfiable in a print edition where space is at a premium.
for digital editions, there is surely no need to save so much
What I propose, therefore, is that jargony digital articles
"optionally expandable" abbreviations. By default, you'll see
the article with all the abbreviations the author put in. But
click on "Expand Some", and the obscure or topic-specific
abbreviations will be expanded into full words, leaving only
the most well-known abbreviations (DNA, mV etc) in situ.
Click on "Expand All", and even these terms will be
expandulated (deoxyribonucleic acid; milliVolts).
Thuswise, people familiar with the literature can skim across
the abbreviations like an ice skater on, uh, ice. But those
are less familiar with the field can have things spelled out so
that they don't have to constantly search backwards through
the paper for the initial use and definition of the
Of course, the miracle of the internet means that
abbreviations could be expanded in little pop-ups when you
mouse over them, but that is fiddly and distracting. Also, it
would be nice to have the option of printing out a PDF with
the abbreviations expanded or not.
That is all.
SearCh for humourIstic and Extravagant acroNyms and Thoroughly Inappropriate names For Important Clinical trials [mitxela, May 21 2018]
||Didn't I suggest this once upon a time? Bun anyway.
||I work in a technical field where acronyms and initialism
is so overused you've got to wonder if people are just
TTSC (trying to sound clever). This is supposed to be
about saving time but I wonder how much time is actually
saved by saying "FTP" instead of "File transfer protocol". I
know we're talking fractions of seconds here so I think
these things are more hindrance than help to efficient
||Here's an idea, click on a file or webpage and select
"IAOII" (Initial Acronym Or Initialism Introduction) so the
first time the item appears it's fully spelled out so you get
an introduction to what the stupid shortened versions
that will be appearing later in the piece means. Then the
rest of the article uses the SOAOI "Stupid Obnoxious
Acronym Or Initialism" you'll have a clue what they're
talking about but you can still save all those valuable split
seconds by not writing out all the words.
||My apologies, [doc], if this recapitulates your earlier
||Regarding "spelling it out the first time" - this is already
done in scientific publications, except for very universal
abbreviations (like DNA). But, even though it's spelled out
the first time, that doesn't help much when you're 3/4 of
the way through an article and "TBCH" pops up again. You
end up re-reading the entire damned thing, just to find that
first use of TBCH, where it's made explicit. So, the option
really needs to allow expansion of all instances of the FAs
throughout the article.
||No worries on the REP, I do that all the time.
||But really, are these doing anything helpful? You're in
biotech and I know some of those terms used can be
pretty lengthy, but do you roll your eyes and say "My god!
Get to the point!" after reading dinosaur nucleic acid (or
whatever that stands for) the 30th time in an article? I
just don't see people getting frustrated and throwing the
computer across the room after having to re-read the
same string of words six or seven times.
||I counted 7 uses of the word "is" in your idea and at no
did I become impatient and start pulling my hair out
screaming "STOP REPEATING YOURSELF!" after the 4th
"is". However I do start screaming the 4th time I have to
up some stupid acronym for the seventh time in one
||I know, maybe it's time for one letter acronyms. Might
loose some clarity but think off all those valuable saved
microseconds we'll accumulate.
||A S with 1 L acronyms M save A L O time.
||IWLTS(1) more HBIs(2) using TLAs(3). TI(4) would help NHs(5) understand WTHIGO(6) MOTT(7). OC(8), REs(9) MBAP(10) but CEBS(11).
||1. I would like to see
2. HB(12) ideas
3. 3 letter abbreviations
4. This idea
6. what the feck is going on
7. most of the fecking time
8. its fecking obvious you dolt
9. recursive EAs(13)
10. might be a pain in the arse
11. could easily be resolved
12. CD(14), either halfbakery, or halfbakers
13. expandable abbreviations
14. context dependent
||//But really, are these doing anything helpful? // If you mean
"are the abbreviations doing anything helpful?", then the
answer is "no, no, no!". (There are exceptions; "millivolt" and
"deoxyribonucleic acid" would get old fast.)
||Their main purpose, as I mentioned, is to save space in
printed journals. Personally, I would like to see fewer
abbreviations, period. But the journals seem to want them,
and my idea was to have an option to expand them in digital
||I'm sorry but I instantly read "don't be a"...
||I'm nervous of sharing the rink with a skater on crystal
methamphetamine. Apart from that, though, I approve. [+]