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Expandable abbreviations

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I am currently wading through a new area of scientific literature, much of it published in the last decade. Almost all 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 heavily used.

Some abbreviations are well-known and would be tedious to read in full (DNA, for example). But many are not at all well- known. For instance, just now I am reading a review article which is about 10 pages long, and it begins with a list of about 60 abbreviations; very few of them are "standard" - they have 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. But for digital editions, there is surely no need to save so much space.

What I propose, therefore, is that jargony digital articles have "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 who 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 abbreviation.

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.

MaxwellBuchanan, May 21 2018

SCIENTIFIC https://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g7092
SearCh for humourIstic and Extravagant acroNyms and Thoroughly Inappropriate names For Important Clinical trials [mitxela, May 21 2018]

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       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 communication.   

       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.
doctorremulac3, May 21 2018

       My apologies, [doc], if this recapitulates your earlier postulations.   

       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.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 21 2018

       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 time 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 look up some stupid acronym for the seventh time in one chapter.   

       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.
doctorremulac3, May 21 2018

       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
5. Non-HBs(12)
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
pocmloc, May 21 2018

       //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 versions.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 21 2018

       DBAFI, [IT].
MaxwellBuchanan, May 21 2018

       I'm sorry but I instantly read "don't be a"...   

       Ok. Never mind.
doctorremulac3, May 21 2018

       Fedifragous Inuit?
doctorremulac3, May 21 2018

       I'm nervous of sharing the rink with a skater on crystal methamphetamine. Apart from that, though, I approve. [+]
pertinax, May 21 2018


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