WTF, when will scientists learn to use fewer acronyms?

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Have you listened to of DNA? It stands for Do Not Abbreviate seemingly. Jokes apart, it is the most extensively utilised acronym in scientific literature in the earlier 70 decades, showing much more than two.four million instances.

The small sort of deoxyribonucleic acid is extensively recognized, but there are millions much more acronyms (like WTF: drinking water-soluble thiourea-formaldehyde) that are creating science fewer useful and much more complicated for society, in accordance to a new paper introduced by Australian researchers.

Queensland University of Technological know-how (QUT) Professor Adrian Barnett and Dr. Zoe Doubleday from the University of South Australia (UniSA) have analyzed 24 million scientific posting titles and 18 million abstracts between 1950 and 2019, looking for developments in acronym use.

In spite of recurring phone calls for scientists to lower their use of acronyms and jargon in journal papers, the assistance has been mainly overlooked, their conclusions demonstrate in a paper revealed in eLife.

Lots of of the 1.1 million distinctive acronyms identified in the earlier 70 decades are causing confusion, ambiguity and misunderstanding, creating science fewer accessible, the researchers say.

“For case in point, the acronym UA has 18 unique meanings in medicine, and six of the 20 most extensively utilised acronyms have a number of frequent meanings in health and professional medical literature,” in accordance to Dr. Zoe Doubleday.

“When I seem at the top 20 scientific acronyms of all time, it shocks me that I recognize only about 50 percent. We have a true dilemma here.”

DNA is universally regarded, but the 2nd most well known acronym CI (assurance interval) could simply be baffled for chief investigator, cubic inch or frequent interface. Similarly, US (United States/ultrasound/urinary procedure) and HR (heart level/hazard ratio) often excursion individuals up.

Prof Barnett states the use of acronyms in titles has much more than trebled since 1950 and enhanced 10-fold in scientific abstracts in the similar period.

“Strikingly, out of the 1.1 million acronyms analyzed, we discovered that two per cent (about two,000) had been utilised much more than 10,000 instances,” he states. “Even when the 100 most well known acronyms had been eliminated, there was nevertheless a clear increase in acronym use in excess of time.”

Entrenched producing designs in science are complicated to shift and abnormal acronym use details to a broader conversation dilemma in science, Dr. Doubleday states, but journals could assistance stem the craze by restricting the quantity of acronyms utilised in a paper.

“In the long term it may be possible—software permitting—for journals to offer you two variations of the similar paper, one with acronyms and one devoid of, so that the reader can pick out the model they favor.”

Amount of media coverage for scientific study connected to quantity of citations

Additional facts:
Adrian Barnett et al. The development of acronyms in the scientific literature, eLife (2020). DOI: 10.7554/eLife.60080

Journal facts:

Presented by
University of South Australia

WTF, when will scientists master to use much less acronyms? (2020, August fourteen)
retrieved fifteen August 2020

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