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The Problem of Early Journal-Title Abbreviations
The CONTENTS
Introductory Remarks
1.   Early History of Abbreviating Journal Titles
1.1   Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London
1.2   Reuss Repertorium
1.3   Poggendorff's Biographisch-Literarisches Handwörterbuch
1.4   Royal Society of London Catalogue of Scientific Papers
1.5   Other Old Journals
1.6   Gradual Adherence to Standard Forms

2   Initial Strategies for Deciphering Journal Title Abbreviations
2.1   Linguistic Structure of a Journal Title
2.2   Linguistic Structure of a Journal-Title Abbreviation
2.3   Finding a Path Back to the Full Form

3   Complicating Factors in Journal-Title Abbreviations
3.1   The Use of the Editor's Name
3.2   The Use of Non-Vernacular Equivalents
3.3   Excessive Abbreviation
3.4   The Omission of Section Designations
3.5   The Addition of Designators Not Present in the Original

4   Further Strategies for Deciphering Journal Title Abbreviations
4.1   Abbreviation Tools
4.2   Bibliographic Verification

5   The Inventory of the Oldest Scholarly Societies
5.1   Origin and Development of the Inventory
5.2   The Inventory as a Tool in Deciphering Abbreviated Journal Titles
Introductory Remarks
The Point of View Initial T, Ornatehis article is intended to examine the use of abbreviations for journal titles, with particular emphasis on journals published by scholarly societies, and especially in the early years.
The Early History To this end, we begin with a survey of the journal-title abbreviations in the early literature, including those in one of the important early scholarly journals, the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, as well as those in bibliographic tools like the Reuss Repertorium, Poggendorff's Biographisch-Literarisches Handwörterbuch and the Royal Society of London Catalogue of Scientific Papers. We then consider abbreviations found in other old journals (located using the JSTOR search engine). We close with a survey of standard forms of abbreviation of journal titles.
Strategies, Problems, Further Strategies We also discuss decipherment strategies that can be performed entirely without using an abbreviation tool. We then discuss complicating factors that may cause a modern-day scholar problems in attempting to decipher early abbreviations of journal titles. We go on to consider further decipherment strategies.
Using the Inventory as a Tool Finally, we discuss the development of the Inventory of the Oldest Scholarly Societies, and indicate how resources found in it can aid in the process of deciphering old abbreviations of journals published by scholarly societies.
1   Early History of Abbreviating Journal Titles
Some Important Early Scholarly Journals Initial I, Ornaten a 1936 article, Sherman B Barnes discusses the problems facing the editors of early scholarly journals. According to Barnes (1936), p.155, the most important of the learned journals founded prior to 1730 were the Journal des Sçavans (1665- ), the Philosophical Transactions (1665- ) and the Acta Eruditorum (1682-1776).

In a 1975 book on scientific periodicals, Bernard Houghton devotes Chapter 1 to the beginnings of the scientific journal. According to Houghton (1975), pp.12-13, the Journal des Sçavans was the first scientific journal, its first issue appearing on January 5 of 1665. Houghton (1975), p.14 indicates that the first English scientific journal was the Philosophical Transactions, its first issue appearing May 6, 1665. He also mentions (Houghton (1975), p.16) two early German scientific journals: Miscellanea Curiosa (1670-1705) and Acta Eruditorum (1682-1731).

The Early Appearance of Abbreviations Initial I, Ornates we shall see below in our survey of journal-title abbreviations in the Philosophical Transactions, abbreviated journal titles appeared very early on in the publishing history of this journal.
And the Consequent Occurrence of Puzzles for Future Scholars Initial W, Ornatee will also look at early journal-title abbreviations from other sources, such as journal indexes like the Reuss Repertorium (compiled 1801-1821). It the course of this survey, it will become clear that some of these early abbreviations will seem very cryptic to modern-day scholars.

In summary, the purpose of this survey of the early history of abbreviating journal titles is to make the opening arguments for the creation of a decipherment tool to help with these older abbreviations.

1.1   Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London
An Early Scholarly Journal Initial T, Ornatehe 1st journal of the Royal Society of London, namely the Philosophical Transactions began publication in 1665. As noted above, Sherman (1936), p.155 considers this one of the most important learned journals that had been founded prior to 1730.
The Futility of a Manual Search Initial T, Ornatehe Editor of this Repertorium Veterrimarum Societatum Litterariarum initially tried to do a page-by-page scan of the 1750 volume of the Philosophical Transactions in order to collect a sample of journal-title abbreviations that were being used in the mid-18th century. Unfortunately, the effort required to scan several months was not rewarded by a sufficient number of abbreviations to make the enterprise worthwhile.
The JSTOR Search Engine Initial A, Ornates it happens, not only does the Philosophical Transactions have a distinguished place in the history of scholarly journals, it is also provided with a superb search engine at the JSTOR archive. Without that search engine the analysis reported in this section would not have been possible.
Uncovering Abbreviations Using the JSTOR Search Engine Initial F, Ornateor any given scholarly society journal title, the Editor examined the major components in the title of the journal, and then enumerated abbreviations for each term that the Editor knew were in common use in the 18th and 19th centuries. He then constructed strings containing appropriate combinations of these abbreviations, and then fed them into the JSTOR search engine, making sure to use the proximity operator to ensure that the words occurred relatively closely to one another, and not on widely separated pages.

The results obtained using this technique were entirely gratifying, far exceeding the Editor's expectations, despite the fact that some of the searches were quite time-consuming.

The First References Initial T, Ornatehe first bibliographic reference in this journal to a journal article occurs in Vol.1 (1665-1666), Number 1, p.17 in which there is a reference to "these Philosophical Transactions"; this contraction is not an abbreviated reference in any serious sense of the term. [Note: We are not considering references to publications other than journals.] This designation is used repeatedly throughout the journal from that point on, as is the designation "these Transactions" (see, for example, Vol.1, Number 4, p.64).

The first unabbreviated reference to a journal other than itself appears to be the reference on Vol. 1 (1665), p.362 to the "Journal des Scavans" (later called the Journal des Savants). It should be noted that the Journal des Scavans began publication just a few months prior to the Philosophical Transactions.

Early Abbreviated References to Itself Initial T, Ornatehe first abbreviated reference to a journal occurs on Vol.1(1665-1666), Number 11, p.181 as "Num.9 of the Phil. Transact. p.159." It is again a self-reference. We enumerate other self-references from the 17th and 18th centuries in the table below. Only the first occurrence is mentioned.

Year
Abbreviation
Source in Phil. Trans.
1665-1666 Phil. Transact. Vol.1 (1665-1666), Number 11, p.181
1668 Phil. Transactions Vol. 3 (1668), p.792
1669 Philos. Transactions Vol. 4 (1669), p.911
1669 Ph. Transactions Vol. 4 (1669), p.1044
1671 Phil. Trans. Vol. 6 (1671), p.2279
1683 Philosophical Transact. Vol. 13 (1683), p.120
1683 Philosoph. Transact. Vol. 13 (1683), p.U5 for pp. 281-284
1683 Philosoph. Trans. Vol. 13 (1683), p.284
1686 Philos. Transact. Vol. 16 (1686), p.237
1686 Ph. Tr. Vol. 16 (1686), p.376
1686 Philos. Trans. Vol. 16 (1686), p.376
1702 Philosoph. Transactions Vol. 23 (1702), p.1416
1704 Philosophical Trans. Vol. 24 (1704), p.1702
1708 Philos. Tr. Vol. 26 (1708), p.423
1753 Phil. Tr. Vol. 48 (1753), p.U5 of the Back Matter
1772 Ph. Trans. Vol. 62 (1772), p.464

Early Abbreviated References to Other Journals Initial T, Ornatehe first abbreviated journal-title reference that we have found in the Philosophical Transactions to something other than itself is one on Vol.9 (1674), p.9 to 1672 of the "German Philosophic Ephemerides". Although none of the components are themselves abbreviated words, the reference itself may be considered an abbreviated reference, and one that many modern-day scholars would find cryptic. The latter abbreviated reference stands for the Miscellanea Curiosa published by the Collegium Naturae Curiosorum (now known as the Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina).

The first abbreviated journal-title reference containing abbreviated words that we have found in the Philosophical Transactions to something other than itself is one on Vol. 10 (1675), p.359 to the "Annus primus 1670, Observ.131" of the "Miscell. curios. Lipsiae". The latter abbreviation stands for the Miscellanea Curiosa published by the Collegium Naturae Curiosorum (the same journal as that in the previous paragraph).

A complete enumeration of all the abbreviations uncovered using the JSTOR search engine (including those in journals other than the Philosophical Transactions) is found at Journal-Title Abbreviations in Old Journals in the Repertorium Veterrimarum Societatum Litterariarum.

1.2   Reuss Repertorium
The Esteemed Repertorium Initial T, Ornatehe Repertorium Commentationum a Societatibus Litterariis Editarum, Secundum Disciplinarum Ordinem complied by Jeremias David Reuss (1750-1837) was intended to index the collective publications (most of which we would consider to be journals) of the scholarly societies up to that time. The 16-volume set was published from 1801-1821, and may be considered to be the pre-eminent journal index for the 17th and 18th century scholarly journal literature.
Uncovering Abbreviations Used in the Reuss Repertorium Initial A, Ornatelthough this excellent index is now freely available in digital form at http://www-gdz.sub.uni-goettingen.de/cgi-bin/digbib.cgi? PPN366452967, as part of the Göttinger Digitalisierungs-Zentrum, the text is not searchable. In the absence of a search engine, the Editor was not able to employ the kinds of strategies described above for the Philosophical Transactions (and other journals in the JSTOR archive).

Instead, over a period of several years, the Editor scanned various volumes of the set and, in the process, documented the occurrence and form of journal-title abbreviations. For some volumes, especially in the exact sciences, the scan was nearly complete. For other volumes, the scan was less complete, but was supplemented by targetted searches for particular society journals; the technique was to use the geographical breakdown when it existed, or the author index for the names of prominent members of the society in question.

The results of these manual searches on the Reuss Repertorium have been incorporated in the area entitled Sigla ad Titulos Actorum Societatum Litterariarum Adhibenda = Abbreviations Used for the Journal Titles of Scholarly Societies.

Abbrevs. of Well-Known Journals Initial F, Ornateor the well-known society journals indexed in his Repertorium, Reuss often used rather short abbreviations that scholars in the early 19th century would have had little difficulty in deciphering. For the modern scholar, unfortunately, these are sometimes so cryptic as to be nearly indecipherable, except to scholars with considerable experience in early bibliography. An example of a short abbreviation of a major society journal that many modern scholars might find confusing is Comment. Bononienses, which Reuss cites in numerous places, including v.3, p.74. This abbreviation stands for De Bononiensi Scientiarum et Artium Instituto atque Academia Commentarii.
Abbrevs. of Lesser Known Journals Initial F, Ornateor journals that would have been less familiar to his readers in the early 19th century, Reuss generally used lengthier abbreviations. These tend to be easier to decipher, even for modern-day scholars. Unfortunately the gain in clarity is, to some extent, offset by a loss in consistency. It appears that, as a general rule, the longer the abbreviation, the more variants of it that appear in the Repertorium. For example, Reuss used over a dozen different abbreviations for Der Gesellschaft Naturforschender Freunde zu Berlin Neue Schriften.

On the other hand, Reuss tended to be consistent in his abbreviations for the major society journals. For example, the only abbreviation that he appears to have used for the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London is Philos. Transact. (which occurs in thousands of places in the 16 volume set).

Examples of Some Abbrevs. in Reuss Initial B, Ornateelow are some examples of abbreviations found in the Reuss Repertorium. They have been chosen to illustrate some of the characteristics that we have described above: short abbreviations for journals more familiar to readers in the early 19th century, longer abbreviations for abbreviations less familiar. Also of note are the inclusion in the longer abbreviations of prepositions, articles and conjunctions.

Citing
Year
Abbreviation = Full
[History Page]
Source
in Reuss
1801 Abhandl. der Bienen-Gesellsch. in der Oberlausiz =
Abhandlungen und Erfahrungen der Physikalisch-Oeconomischen Bienengesellschaft in Oberlausitz
[1766chspoebgo.html
v.1, p.161 cites J.1768. 1769.
1802 Abhandl. der Landwirthschaftl. Gesellsch. zu Burghausen =
Abhandlungen der landwirtschaftlichen Gesellschaft zu Burghausen
[1765cslab.html]
v.2, p.553 cites J. 1785.
1803 Comment. Bononienses =
De Bononiensi Scientiarum et Artium Instituto atque Academia Commentarii
[1714asib.html]
v.3, p.74 cites T.1.
1805 Abhandl. der Baierischen Akad. =
Abhandlungen der Churfürstlich-Baierischen Akademie der Wissenschaften
[1759cbaw.html]
v.4, p.3 cites B.9.
1805 Mem. Acad. de la R. Sociedad de Sevilla =
Memorias Academicas de la Real Sociedad de Medicina, y demas Ciencias de Sevilla
[1693vtmh.html]
v.4, p.137 cites T.2.
1806 Mem. d'Agric. =
Mémoires d'Agriculture, d'Économie Rurale et Domestique. Publ. par la Société Royale d'Agriculture de Paris
[1761sragp.html]
v.6, p.35 cites A. 1787.
1808 Precis Analyt. des travaux de la Soc. de Nancy =
Précis Analytique des Travaux de la Société Académique des Sciences, Lettres et Arts de Nancy
[1750srsbln.html]
v.7, p.6 cites 1806.
1810 Mem. della Soc. Colombaria Fiorentina =
Memorie di Varia Erudizione della Società Colombaria Fiorentina
[1735atslc.html]
v.8, p.76 cites Vol.2.
1810 Mem. de l'Acad. Celtique =
Mémoires de l'Académie Celtique ou Recherches sur les antiquités celtiques, gauloises et françaises
[1804ac.html]
v.9, p.18 cites T.1.
1813 Medical Transact. =
Medical Transactions, published by the College of Physicians in London
[1518rcp.html]
v.10, p.75 cites vol.2.
1816 Memorie della Soc. Italiana =
Memorie di Matematica e Fisica della Società Italiana
[1782sis.html]
v.11, p.117 cites T. I.
1817 Transact. of a Soc. for the Improv. of Med. and Chirurg. knowledge =
Transactions of a Society for the Improvement of Medical and Chirurgical Knowledge
[1783simck.html]
v.12, p.78 cites Vol.3.
1820 Verhandel. van het Genootsch. ter Bevord. der Heelk. te Amsterdam =
Verhandelingen van het Genootschap ter Bevordering der Heelkunde te Amsterdam
[1790gbh.html]
v.15, p.146 cites Deel 1.
1821 Transact. of King's and Queen's College of Physicians in Ireland =
Transactions of the Association of Fellows and Licentiates of the King's and Queen's College of Physicians in Ireland
[1654rcpi.html]
v.16, p.2 cites Vol.1.

1.3   Poggendorff's Biographisch-Literarisches Handwörterbuch
The Purpose of the Work Initial F, Ornateorty years after the publication of Reuss's 16 volume set, the first two volumes of Poggendorff's Biographisch-Literarisches Handwörterbuch were published. This work by Johann Christian Poggendorff (1796-1877) was intended as a bio-bibliographical dictionary covering scientists in the exact sciences from all countries and all time periods. For each scientist, there is brief biographical information, as well as a bibliography of the writing of the scientist. The primary arrangment is by the author's name. Within each entry, books are listed first, followed by journal articles. Articles in both scholarly society journals and independent journals are included.
Bibliographic Standards in the Work Initial R, Ornateegrettably, this two-volume set had significantly lower bibliographic standards than those used by Reuss. To be more specific, Poggendorff was less careful in citing the titles of the journal articles than Reuss had been, and was even less consistent in his use of abbreviations for the journal titles than Reuss. (A comparison with the next item that we consider, the Royal Society of London Catalogue of Scientific Papers, would be even less flattering.)
Uncovering Abbreviations Used in Poggendorff Initial I, Ornaten order to find a representative sample of journal-title abbreviations used in this tool, the Editor did a manual scan of the first 100 pages of the first volume. Both society journals and independent journals were documented, and supplied with the full name, publication years and volumes. This work was tiresome in the extreme, in no small part because of the cryptic manner in which Poggendorff abbreviated many of the titles. The results of that scan may be accessed from Journal Title Abbreviations: Poggendorff Biographisch-Literarisches Handwörterbuch zur Geschichte der exakten Wissenschaften.
1.4   Royal Society of London Catalogue of Scientific Papers
The Purpose of the Catalogue Initial J, Ornateust four years after the publication of the first two volumes of Poggendorff's Biographisch-Literarisches Handwörterbuch, the first six volumes of the Royal Society of London Catalogue of Scientific Papers (RSLC) appeared. This first instalment covered the journal literature of science from 1800 to 1863. Papers concerned only with medicine or surgery were excluded, but papers with significant anatomical or physiological content were included. Matter of a purely technical or professional nature were excluded. The journals indexed included both journals of scholarly societies and independent journals.
Bibliographic Standards in the Catalogue Initial T, Ornatehis Catalogue established significantly higher standards in bibliography than those employed by either Reuss or Poggendorff. Firstly, in most cases, it used only one journal-title abbreviation per journal. Secondly, it published an expansion key to the journal-title abbreviations employed. And thirdly, it often included both a volume number and date of publication for each article, a practice much to be applauded.

One cannot help but remark that forty years after the publication of the Repertorium Commentationum a Societatibus Litterariis Editarum, Secundum Disciplinarum Ordinem, bibliographic standards appeared to have both declined (as evinced in Poggendorff's Biographisch-Literarisches Handwörterbuch) and improved (in the Royal Society of London Catalogue of Scientific Papers (RSLC)). One might reasonably wonder about this simultaneous improvement and decline in bibliographic standards.

The explanation for this conundrum is probably to be found in the fact that Jeremias David Reuss was a librarian, as were the compilers of the RSLC, whilst Johann Christian Poggendorff was a professional scientist lacking training as a librarian. The improvement in bibliographic standards in mid-19th century was likely confined to the library profession. Happily, we live in a more enlightened age. So considerable an amount of edification has occurred over the past century and a half that one can scarcely find any reason to reproach modern scholarly publications for their bibliographic standards.

The Form of the Abbreviations in the Catalogue Initial I, Ornatef there was a geographical place name that was closely connected with the journal title, as was the case with many of the 19th century society journals, the RSLC began the abbreviation with that geographic designator. An example is Berlin, Akad. Sitzber., which stood for Sitzungsberichte der Königlich Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin (1882 - 1918).

It may also be noted that in later cumulations of this work, especially the last one (vols. 13-19, published 1884 - 1900), the abbreviations were, on the whole, shorter.

1.5   Other Old Journals
Fortuitous Accidents Using the JSTOR Search Engine Initial I, Ornaten the process of using the JSTOR search engine to perform searches on the Philosophical Transactions to determine abbreviations that were in use prior to 1750 for the earliest scholarly journals, the Editor occasionally did the search over the entire corpus of several hundred journals in the JSTOR archive quite by accident. The results revealed interesting abbreviations not to be found in the Philosophical Transactions.
Extending the JSTOR Search to the Entire Corpus Initial A, Ornates a consequence of these fortuitous accidents, the Editor eventually decided to extend the JSTOR searches to cover all journals in the archive, and finally to examine search results in journal volumes to the present day. This entailed the creation of a small information page for each journal that yielded up at least one abbreviation. There are now over one hundred such information pages, reflecting the fact that a large number of journals representing diverse disciplines have contributed to the body of abbreviations uncovered.

The results of this ongoing work are arranged by founding date of each journal at: Journal-Title Abbreviations in Old Journals in the Repertorium Veterrimarum Societatum Litterariarum. The abbreviations have also been incorporated into the alphabetical arrangement found in the abbreviation area located at Sigla ad Titulos eorum Actorum Adhibenda = Abbreviations Used for their Journal Titles.

An Embarrassment of Riches Initial O, Ornatene of the unexpected results of these searches on the JSTOR archive was the revelation that in the case of certain journals there were an extraordinary number of different abbreviations that were in use to refer to those journals. We enumerate some of the more noteworthy cases in the table below.

Full Title
No. of Abbrevs.
Found In
Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Erdkunde zu Berlin (1866-1944) 120+ 1828gfeb.html
Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft (1847- ) 100+ 1845dmg.html
Journal of the American Oriental Society (1843- ) 70+ 1842aos.html
Memoirs and Proceedings of the Manchester Literary & Philosophical Society (1888-1958) 55+ 1781lpsm.html
Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (1892- ) 50+ 1849rsai.html
Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskabs Skrifter. Naturvidenskabelig og Mathematisk Afdeling (1849-1938) 45+ 1742kslve.html
Journal of the American Statistical Association (1922- ) 40+ 1839asa.html
Zeitschrift der Deutschen Geologischen Gesellschaft (1848-1910) 40+ 1848dgg.html
Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und verwandte Gebiete (1886-1938) 40+ 1845dmg.html
Comptes Rendus Hebdomadaires des Séances et Mémoires de la Société de Biologie (1884-1920) 35+ 1848sdb.html

Searching Other Large Full-Text Archives Initial T, Ornatehe results of the ongoing searches of the JSTOR Archive have been so astonishingly fruitful that it is natural to consider applying the technique to other full-text archives that cover a large number of journals and that supply volumes spanning many decades for each journal.

A reasonable point of departure is the list of full-text archives that we have compiled at Resources Used in the Historical Data Section: Full-Text Archives. The largest and most promising archives listed there are Gallica: la bibliothèque numerique and Göttinger DigitalisierungsZentrum GDZ. Sad to say, neither of these two large full-text archives is searchable. Until the Editor discovers another searchable large full-text archive that covers a large number of journals and a lengthy period of time, he will continue to concentrate on searching the JSTOR archive.

1.6   Gradual Adherence to Standard Forms
The Development of Standard Forms Initial A, Ornates should be clear from the above discussions, in the early years of scholarly publishing there was considerable variation in the abbreviations that were used to designate journal titles. The history of the development of standards in abbreviating journal titles is a complex one, and unfolded mainly in the 20th century. It is beyond the scope of the present essay to give anything more than a very brief summary of that history.

In a 1954 article, Kent (1954), Francis L. Kent includes some historical information on the 20th century move to standardize journal-title abbreviations. According to Kent (1954), p.61, the first attempt at establishing a standard occurred with the appearance of the World List of Scientific Periodicals, whose 2nd volume (1927) gave a brief code of rules, as well as the abbreviations for each of the 25,000 titles included. (Parenthetically, we might add that, prior to this time, various bibliographies like RSLC had supplied lists of the journal-title abbreviations that they employed, but lacking a set of rules explaining the basis for the method of abbreviation.)

Kent (1954), p.61 goes on to say that this code was used in creating the Code international d'Abréviations des Titres de Périodiques issued by the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation (1930, with a supplement in 1932). In 1938 this Code was adopted virtually without change by the ISA (International Federation of National Standards Associations) and published as ISA Bulletin 23.

Kent (1954), p.61 indicates that further work on the Code was done by the ISO (International Organization for Standardization), the successor to the ISA. The ISO issued their revision of the Code as ISO draft recommendation no. 9 in 1952 and approved it in 1953.

Adherence to Standard Forms The appearance of the ISO standard for abbreviating journal titles was not greeted by universal acceptance. It would appear that even today, some major journal indexes/databases do not follow this ISO standard. For example, although Medline (Index Medicus) and INSPEC (Science Abstracts) have established a high degree of conformance to this ISO standard, other major tools like SciFinder Scholar (Chemical Abstracts) or Biosis (Biological Abstracts) have not.

Since many journals base their bibliographic standards on those of the major journal indexes for their field, this suggests that conformance to the ISO standard in the bibliographic references in journal articles might be rather low. In spite of this, our experience in doing searches for journal-title abreviations using JSTOR is that between 1960 and 1970 one finds a noticeable decline in variation of abbreviations for journal titles in all fields. This seems to suggest that, although there is far from universal conformance to the ISO standard, there is now a fairly high degree of conformance to some standard within most disciplines.

2   Initial Strategies for Deciphering Journal Title Abbreviations
The Cognitive Processes Initial W, Ornatehen one is confronted by a journal-title abbreviation, it is natural first to attempt to interpret it using one's own skills, without recourse to external tools. In this section we examine the cognitive processes involved in doing so. In later sections we shall examine further strategies that will help when the cognitive processes described directly below are not successful. These include the use of abbreviation tools, and bibliographic verification of the entire reference.
2.1   Linguistic Structure of a Journal Title
The Plan Initial I, Ornaten this section, we propose a linguistic structure that is consistent with the types of journal titles presented in the historical section above. To do so, we first introduce some labelling conventions that we shall follow.
Our Labelling Conventions for Journal Titles

Label
Meaning
Instances
[Publication] generic word for publication Journal; Comptes Rendus; Abhandlungen; Verhandelingen; Rendiconti; Handlingar; Boletín
[Geography] geographical descriptor Britain; Française; Nederlandsche; Svenska; Deutschland; Italiana; Española
[Corporate] generic word for corporate body Gesellschaft; Académie; Society; Sällskapet; Accademia; Sociedad; Genootschap
[Subject] subject descriptor Morgenländische; Physicians; História; Natuurkundige; Archéologie; Vetenskaps; Scienze
[Bits] prepositions, articles and conjuctions of; de; zu; della; y; ter; och

The Formula Based on the journal titles encountered whilst preparing the history pages in the Repertorium Veterrimarum Societatum Litterariarum, we propose the following formula, in which the order of elements may be changed, and all elements are repeatable or optional (see, however, remarks in the paragraph that follows the formula):

[Publication] [Geography] [Corporate] [Subject] [Bits]

Comments on The Formula Below are some remarks concerning the linguistic structure of the titles of early journals:
  • When we speak of journal titles here, we mean the correct and complete title of the journal as it appears in a library catalogue, not a complete or abbreviated version of the title as we find it in a bibliographic reference.
  • The subject descriptor elements for the vast majority of journals before 1800 were usually very broad in scope, for example, words for science or humanities. It is true that increasingly specific subject descriptors were in fact used in journal titles prior to 1800, but it was only after 1800 that relatively specific subject descriptors became commonplace in journal titles.
  • The geographical descriptor, especially in some of the early journals, is occasionally absent in a bibliographic reference, but will be supplied in a note field in a library catalogue record for that journal.
  • The language used for all elements may be in a language other than the vernacular of the country of origin. This occurs especially in the early journals, and reflects the fact that the non-vernacular language was considered more appropriate for scholarly communication than the vernacular during that time period. Examples include the use of Latin and then French in the titles of early journals of both the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, and the Российская Академия Наук (Russian Academy of Sciences).
2.2   Linguistic Structure of a Journal-Title Abbreviation
The Plan Initial I, Ornaten this section, we propose a linguistic structure that is consistent with the types of journal-title abbreviations presented in the historical section above. (It should be noted that journal-title abbreviations often included some non-abbreviated elements.) To do so, we first introduce some labelling conventions that we shall follow.
Our Labelling Conventions for Journal-Title Abbreviations

Label
Meaning
Instances
[P] abbreviation (or the full-form) of a generic word for publication Journ.; Compt. Rend.; Abh; Verhandel.; R.C.; Handl.; Bol.
[G] abbreviation (or the full-form) of a geographical descriptor Br.; Fr.; Nederl.; Sv.; Deutschl.; Ital.; Es.
[C] abbreviation (or the full-form) of a generic word for corporate body Gsll.; Acad.; Soc.; Sällsk.; Accad.; Socied.; Genoots.
[S] abbreviation (or the full-form) of a subject descriptor Morg.; Physic.; Hist.; Natuurk.; Archéol.; Vetensk.; Sci.
[B] abbreviation (or the full-form) of a prepositions, articles and conjuctions d.; z.

The Formula Based on the journal-title abbreviations encountered whilst preparing the history pages in the Repertorium Veterrimarum Societatum Litterariarum, we propose the following formula, in which the order of elements may be changed, and all elements are repeatable or optional (see, however, remarks in the paragraph that follows the formula):

[P] [G] [C] [S] [B]

Comments on The Formula The points made in the previous section about the subject descriptor elements, the geographical descriptor and the language used for all elements also apply in this section. To those comments, we add the following comments that apply specifically to abbreviated journal titles:
  • When we speak of journal-title abbreviations here, we mean abbreviations that are found in bibliographies (like the Reuss Repertorium) or bibliographic references in journal articles, books, etc.
  • We find three main styles in abbreviating individual words:
    1. the truncation style, in which all characters from a certain point onward in the word are removed, for example, using Journ in place of Journal, and
    2. the excision style, in which letters in the interior of the word are excised, for example, using Jrnl in place of Journal. One occasionally finds Swedish references in which the excision style is indicated through the use of the colon, for example, the use of Vetenskaps-Akad:s to represent Vetenskaps-Akademiens.
    3. One occasionally sees a third style: the doubling of a consonant in an abbreviated word to indicate that it represents the plural form of the word. This nearly obsolete practice is found in various European languages, and has its roots in medieval Latin manuscripts. In journal-title abbreviations, it is generally the last consonant that is doubled. One of the few English-language instances of this that we have seen is the use of Antt to represent Antiquaries.
  • Examples of abbreviated words that we have found are located at Abbreviation Word List for Old Journals in the Repertorium Veterrimarum Societatum Litterariarum.
2.3   Finding a Path Back to the Full Form
The Task Initial B, Ornatey deciphering an abbreviation for a journal-title abbreviation, we mean finding a path from an string of the form [P] [G] [C] [S] [B] back to a string of the form [Publication] [Geography] [Corporate] [Subject] [Bits], where the latter is the original unabbreviated form of the title.
An Algorithmic Description of the Task We can express this complex cognitive task as an algorithm described in rather abstract language (something that a computer scientist might refer to as high-level pseudo-code). The sub-routines of the algorithm are given below with comments illustrating its use in expanding the abbreviation:
Mém. Soc. Géol. Fr..

Sub-Routine
Example
Comments
Identify the language of the original title. French Someone with sufficient linguistic knowledge will be able to do this by inspection. Another way to do this is to consult a list of word fragments that has at least one language associated with each fragment. One then needs to find a language common to all fragments in the string. There may be more than one choice.
Propose alternative expansions of each element. Mém. = Mémoires
Soc. = Société
Géol. = Géologie = Géologique
Fr. = France = Français = Française
One needs to work from lists of words commonly used in journal titles. Here is a preliminary version of such a list.
Propose different combinations of these words. Mémoires Société Géologie Français
Mémoires Société Géologie Française
Mémoires Société Géologie France
Mémoires Société Géologique Français
Mémoires Société Géologique Française
Mémoires Société Géologique France
Note that we have not included any of the prepositions, articles or conjunctions. The reason for this is that modern online catalogues will allow us to do keywords searching, which effectively means that we do not have to worry about these small linguistic "bits".
Test These Strings in Online Catalogues We get the following useful looking match on the 6th string in the Harvard Univ. cat.: Mémoires de la Société géologique de France. Note that we need to find a match on all words in any string. BUT we also must confirm that the journal found was published in the time period specified by the bibliographic reference, OR had a volume number as specified in the reference.

Performing the Algorithm The algorithm specified may be performed by a person with sufficient knowledge of the language in question, and of terms commonly used in the titles of scholarly journals. Indeed this is an area in which many librarians have developed some skill.

The algorithm could indubitably be implemented as a computer program, supplemented by a database of appropriate words and word fragments in various languages.

3   Complicating Factors in Journal-Title Abbreviations
A Brief List of Some Complicating Factors Initial I, Ornaten a 1938 article, Margaret Shields proposes a reform in the matter of bibliographic citations (Shields (1938)). In order to support her proposals, she alludes to a number of factors complicating the decipherment of abbreviated journal titles. Among the factors mentioned on p.12 of Shields (1938) are (1) the use of the editor's name if it is not officially part of the title (2) the use of non-vernacular equivalents for all or part of an abbreviation, (3) excessive abbreviation, as for example with initialisms, and (4) the omission of section designations if such exist.

To these four factors, we shall add a fifth, namely, (5) addition of descriptors not present in the original. We shall examine all five categories in our discussion below.

3.1   The Use of the Editor's Name
Largely a 19th Century Practice Initial T, Ornatehe practice of including the editor's name in a journal title abbreviation when that name is not an official part of the title was common in the 19th century, although it was generally limited to so-called independent journals, that is, journals that were not published by some institution, such as a scholarly society. Numerous examples of this practice with independent journals can be found in Journal Title Abbreviations: Poggendorff Biographisch-Literarisches Handwörterbuch zur Geschichte der exakten Wissenschaften, for example (1) Bohnenb. u. Lindenau Zeitschr., (2) Brewster, Journ. of Science, (3) Brugnatelli's Annali, (4) De la Metherie, Journ., and (5) N. Sill. Journ. (in which the editor's name is severely truncated).
A Scholarly Society Example An example in which the editor's name has been supplied for a scholarly society journal is provided by a 1889 citation of volume i of a journal whose title is abbreviated as Weber, Ind. St.. This reference is to be found on p.140 of J. Am. Oriental Soc., Vol. 13 (1889). This is actually a reference to the following journal: Indische Studien : Beiträge für d. Kunde d. indischen Altertums / Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft (hrsg. von Albrecht Weber) (1849-1898).
Why This is a Problem This is problematic not because we have been supplied with the name of the editor, but because we have so little else to work with.
3.2   The Use of Non-Vernacular Equivalents
Largely an 18th Century Problem Initial I, Ornaten the older literature, especially the 18th century literature, it is not uncommon to find abbreviations of journal titles in which the language of the original has been changed to that of the language in which the citing paper is written. In some cases, the entire abbreviation is not in the vernacular, or original, language; in other cases, only part of the abbreviation has been translated.
The Entire Abbreviation Translated An example in which the entire abbreviation has been translated is provided by a 1778 citation of a 1764 volume of a journal whose title is abbreviated as Mem. of Acad. of Sciences. This reference is to be found on p.640 of Phil. Trans., Vol. 68 (1778). This is actually a reference to the following journal: Histoire de l'Académie Royale des Sciences année ... : avec les Mémoires de Mathématique & de Physique, pour la même année ... : tirés des registres de cette Académie covering sessions from 1699-1790, and published from 1702-1797.

Another example in which the entire abbreviation has been translated is provided by a 1798 citation of a 1773 volume of a journal whose title is abbreviated as Upsal Transactions. This reference is to be found on p.424 of Phil. Trans., Vol. 88 (1798). This is actually a reference to the following journal: Nova Acta Regiae Societatis Scientiarum Upsaliensis (1773-1968).

Part of the Abbreviation Translated

An example in which part of the abbreviation has been translated is provided by a 1929 citation of a 1871 volume of a journal whose title is abbreviated as Mem.-Cour. Royal Acad., Belg.. This reference is to be found on p.426 of Ecology, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Oct., 1929). This is actually a reference to the following journal: Mémoires couronnés et Mémoires des Savants Étrangers, publiés par l'Académie Royale des Sciences, des Lettres, et des Beaux Arts de Belgique. Collection in 4°. Note that the royal designation is given in English rather than French, and also that it comes before the corporate body (following the English style) rather than after (as in the French original).

3.3   Excessive Abbreviation
Gratuitous Use of Initialisms Initial T, Ornatehe use of initialisms in abbreviations of journal titles, rampant throughout the 20th Century, stretches back into the 19th Century as well.

An example in which the entire abbreviation is an initialism is provided by a 1872 - 1880 citation of vol. xxii of a journal whose title is abbreviated as Z.D.M.G.. This reference is to be found on p.329 of J. Am. Oriental Soc., Vol. 10 (1872 - 1880). This is actually a reference to the following journal: Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft (1847 - ).

An example in which part of the abbreviation is an initialism is provided by a 1896 citation of the 1896 volume of a journal whose title is abbreviated as B.S.G. Paris. This reference is to be found on p.416 of Geographical Journal, Vol. 8, No. 4 (Oct., 1896). This is actually a reference to the following journal: Bulletin de la Société de Géographie (1822-1899).

Abbrevs. Consisting of Little More than a Place Name Initial A, Ornatenother type of excessive abbreviation that occurs frequently in Reuss and Poggendorff is when the abbreviation consists largely of an abbreviation for a generic name for a publication (e.g. Proc. or Abhandl.) plus an abbrevation for a geographical place name (e.g. Edinb. or Baierisch.). In cases like this, one is not even given an abbreviation for a generic name for society (e.g. Soc. or Akad.). An example is Mem. de Geneve, found on v.4, p.145 of Reuss. It is an abbreviation of Mémoires de la Société établie à Genève pour l'encouragement des Arts et de l'Agriculture (1778-1780).
3.4   The Omission of Section Designations
Section Designations for Scholarly Journals Initial A, Ornate notable characteristic of the journal literature of scholarly societies is the occurrence of subdivisions of some journals into separately published sections. These may or may not correspond to a formal division of membership in the Society into various classes.
Problems More Noticeable with German Journals Although the division of society journals into sections is to be found in the journals of scholarly societies across the world, the resulting bibliographic problems tend to be more noticeable with the societies (especially the academies) in German-speaking countries.

We have seen numerous instances in which bibliographic references cite only the main journal title of a society from a German-speaking country, and omit reference to the section intended. On the other hand, there appears to be a greater tendency to include the section title (when one exists) in citations to French, English and other publications.

There are a couple of factors that might contribute to this. First is that German societies are, on the whole, more likely to issue journal titles broken down into different sections than their sister societies in other countries. Hence it is probable that more frequent omissions of section designations will occur in references to German journals than in other journals.

A second factor is that these observations have been based on citations found in journals in the JSTOR archive, which consists primarily of English-language journals with articles written and edited by English-speaking scholars. It is entirely possible that German-speaking scholars are more fastidious in citing section designations in German journals than their non-German counterparts are.

An Example An example in which the section designation has been omitted is provided by a 1906 citation of the 1840 volume of a journal whose title is abbreviated as Abh. Bayer. Akad.. This reference is to be found on p.411 of Phil. Trans., B Vol. 198 (1906). This is actually a reference to a biological article in the following journal: Abhandlungen der Mathematisch-Physikalischen Klasse der Königlich Baierischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (1829- ).
3.5   The Addition of Designators Not Present in the Original
The Problem Initial M, Ornateost abbreviations of journal titles involve the elimination of entire words, and the abbreviation of the remainder. We have, however, found a few instances that involve the addition of abbreviations of words that do not actually occur in the correct title for the abbreviation, and that do so in such a way that might create a false impression.
An Example An example in which an abbreviation for a descriptor not present in the original has been added is provided by a 1863 citation of T. VII (published 1729) and T. X (published 1730) of a journal whose title is abbreviated as Mém. Anc. Paris. These two references are to be found on col.77 of v.1 of Pogg.. They are actually references to the following journal: Mémoires de l'Académie des Sciences... tirés des registres de cette Académie covering sessions from 1666 -1699, and published from 1729-1733.

Poggendorff is clearly using the abbreviation Anc. to stand for Ancienne (as in Ancienne Académie) to make it clear that he is referring not to a journal of the Académie des Sciences published in the 19th century, but to a journal published in the days before the French Revolution. He does this instead of simply adding a date to the volume number.

Why this is a Problem The resulting abbreviation gives the unfortunate impression that there existed a body with a name including the fragment Ancienne Académie, when in point of fact no such official name ever existed. Someone unfamiliar with the significance of the descriptors ancien and ancienne in French history is in danger of being led astray whilst attempting to locate such a publication in a library catalogue.
4   Further Strategies for Deciphering Journal Title Abbreviations
Going Further Initial A, Ornates mentioned above, when one is confronted by a journal-title abbreviation, it is natural first to attempt to interpret it using one's own skills, without recourse to external tools. In this section, we shall examine further strategies that will help when the cognitive processes described in sections above are not successful. These include the use of abbreviation tools, and bibliographic verification of the entire reference.
4.1   Abbreviation Tools
Types of Abbreviation Tools Initial T, Ornatehere are a number of tools that expand the abbreviations of journal titles. As we shall see below, they tend to be of limited usefulness to the historian. These abbreviation tools generally fall into two classes: those unrelated to journal indexes and those issued by journal indexes.
Tools Unrelated to Journal Indexes An example of a tool unrelated to journal indexes is Periodical Title Abbreviations published by Gale Research Co. The latter is very useful for modern-day abbreviations, but less useful for abbreviations used in past centuries.
Tools Issued by Journal Indexes Examples of tools issued by journal indexes are the abbreviation keys published by major journal indexes like INSPEC (Science Abstracts) and Medline (Index Medicus). Such keys are useful in expanding abbreviations conforming to the standard employed by the journal indexes but are of limited use in expanding other abbreviations.

It should be noted that the expansion keys provided in the Royal Society of London Catalogue of Scientific Papers are of particular use in situations where the main clue that one has is the city of publication for a society journal, or the name of the editor (see Using the Editor's Name) One must keep in mind, however, that this key is useful only for 19th century scientific journals.

4.2   Bibliographic Verification
A Common Next Step Initial W, Ornatehen standard compilations of journal-title abbreviations fail to decipher a problematic abbreviations, a librarian's next strategy is often to use a bibliographic tool such as a journal index to find a more complete bibliographic reference to the journal article in question. The efficacy of such a technique depends, of course, on the existence of a bibliographic tool covering the appropriate time period and subject disciplines.

This is the technique of choice when one encounters difficult problems such as those detailed above in Complicating Factors in Journal-Title Abbreviations.

This process was followed in deciphering the above mentioned Mem. de Geneve abbreviation that had first been located through Reuss (see section 3.3 Excessive Abbreviation above). Surprisingly, it was Poggendorff (v.2, col.466) that supplied the better abbreviation: Mém. Soc. des arts etc. de Genève. Deciphering the latter abbreviation was not very difficult.

5   The Inventory of the Oldest Scholarly Societies
A Summary Initial T, Ornatehis section describes the origin of the Repertorium Veterrimarum Societatum Litterariarum (Inventory of the Oldest Scholarly Societies) in a small set of nearly forgotten index cards, and mentions some of the later developments of the Inventory. The section concludes by examining the use of the area entitled Sigla ad Titulos eorum Actorum Adhibenda (Abbreviations Used for their Journal Titles) in deciphering early journal-titles abbreviations.
5.1   Origin and Development of the Inventory
A Nearly Forgotten Set of Index Cards Initial B, Ornatey the early 1980s, in the course of some bibliographical work involving the 17th and 18th journal literature, the Editor had prepared a set of fewer than 200 index cards containing information documenting the abbreviations of journal titles that he had come across in scanning a couple of volumes of the Reuss Repertorium. As it happened, the process of enumerating these abbreviations and deciphering them was a rather time-consuming process.
The Contribution of Scholarly Societies to the Scholarly Record Initial I, Ornaten 1999 when the Editor of the Scholarly Societies Project rediscovered that set of index cards, it occurred to him that it might be useful to make this sort of information available as a way of of documenting the contribution of the early societies to the scholarly record. Accordingly, he established a sub-project entitled the Repertorium Veterrimarum Societatum Litterariarum (Inventory of the Oldest Scholarly Societies).

It was intended that this information be presented within history pages that would include (in addition to basic historical information on the society in question) an enumeration of the principal journals published by each scholarly society, along with a list of abbreviations for individual journal titles, as documented in the Reuss Repertorium.

Identifying Candidate Societies and Journals Initial I, Ornaten order to determine which early societies deserved this sort of special treatment, the Editor extended the scan to additional volumes of the Reuss Repertorium. Some volumes were scanned almost completly; others were scanned only partially. In the end, information on several hundred journal-title abbreviations was collected for journals most of which began publication before 1800, but a few of which began publication as late as 1815.
Further Developments Initial W, Ornateith the passage of time, additional societies that made important contributions to the scholarly record were identified through other techniques, and were given history pages, with an enumeration of their major journals. Targetted searches of the Reuss Repertorium yielded abbreviations for some of these journals. A separate area enumerating the abbreviations in an alphabetical sequence was established at Sigla ad Titulos eorum Actorum Adhibenda (Abbreviations Used for their Journal Titles). Eventually a few additional journal indexes beyond the Reuss Repertorium were also added; details are found in Sources of the Journal Title Abbreviations in the Repertorium Veterrimarum Societatum Litterariarum.

In 2004, the scope of the Repertorium was officially extended from societies founded before 1800 to societies founded before 1830. In 2005 the upper limit was again extended, this time to societies founded before 1850.

In June of 2005 it occurred to the Editor that it might be possible to use the search engine of the JSTOR archive to augment the collection of abbreviations considerably, especially for journals published past the year 1815. This has indeed become a very useful, if time-consuming, strategy in finding journal-title abbreviations.

5.2   The Inventory as a Tool in Deciphering Abbreviated Journal Titles
The Scope of the Tool Initial T, Ornatehe area of the Repertorium Veterrimarum Societatum Litterariarum (Inventory of the Oldest Scholarly Societies) known as Sigla ad Titulos eorum Actorum Adhibenda (Abbreviations Used for their Journal Titles) functions as a tool for deciphering journal-titles abbreviations for a certain class of journals. It is restricted to the journals of scholarly societies founded prior to 1850. Naturally any such society may have continued to publish major journals well past 1850. Hence the time limit on the journal runs is quite a different matter; generally, journals are included up to at least 1930, and in some cases later than that.
Sources of Abbreviations Initial A, Ornatebbreviations have been drawn from two distinct types of sources: journal indexes and the journal literature itself. The journal indexes covered include the Reuss Repertorium (mostly 17th and 18th century journals) and the RSLC (19th century scientific journals). The journal literature covered is restricted to journals available in the JSTOR archive). More information may be found in Sources of the Journal Title Abbreviations in the Repertorium Veterrimarum Societatum Litterariarum.
Access to the Collection of Abbreviations Initial C, Ornateurrently, access to abbreviations of journal titles is available at Sigla ad Titulos eorum Actorum Adhibenda (Abbreviations Used for their Journal Titles); this information is also available as a portion of the top-level page of the Repertorium Veterrimarum Societatum Litterariarum (Inventory of the Oldest Scholarly Societies).

Access to the collection of abbreviations is through a set of links for the various letters of the alphabet; each link gives an alphabetized list of abbreviations beginning with the appropriate letter of the alphabet. Each abbreviated journal title is supplied with the source of information, and a link to the history page where the full-form of the relevant journal title will be found.

The process of deciphering a journal-title abbreviation therefore currently involves two steps: (1) going to one of the lists, (2) going to the history page indicated.

Clearly this is far from ideal. It is hoped that during 2006, the Editor will be able to convert the contents of the history pages, including the information pertaining to the principal journals of each society, into a searchable format. Once that is complete, it should be possible to perform complex searches for journal titles and journal-title abbreviations that are enumerated in the Inventory.

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First Published 2006, March 19
Modified 2007, February 24
Jim Parrott, Editor
Repertorium Veterrimarum Societatum Litterariarum
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