They’re really not helping

Getting older and more forgetful is one of those things you just have to accept. Trying to remember where you left the keys, what day your niece’s birthday is, whether you need to catch the 143 bus or the 134 bus… all those things get harder.

Distinguishing between journals with similar names can be tricky too. Stem Cells seems straightforward until you encounter Cell Stem Cell, which looks like a typo the first time you see it. For some reason I always mix up Development and Developmental Biology too.

The rush to join in the mega-journals market has made things worse. As I noted a few months back we have Open Biology and Biology Open (I dare not put links in to these as I will probably get them the wrong way round), and now I see a new title has been launched by Elsever and FEBS. It will be called FEBS Open Bio. For a moment I thought it was just Open Bio, which would have been terrible, but at least there is the “FEBS” in there to differentiate it.

What is an ageing librarian with looming memory-loss to do? Oh well, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. I think I will start lobbying for a new journal to be called Bio Open.

About Frank Norman

I am a retired librarian. I spent 40 years working in biomedical research libraries.
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13 Responses to They’re really not helping

  1. cromercrox says:

    Don’t look now, but there’ll soon be a periodical called Annual Reviews of Road Conveyances to Railway Termini.

  2. ricardipus says:

    The ones that always get me are Genome Biology and Genome Research. I can never remember which is which. That’s a bit annoying, since one of them is Open Access and one of them is not only subscription based, but also not held by my local institutional library last time I looked.

  3. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    For me it was always Virology, Journal of Virology, and Virology Journal. There are numerous other similar titles in that field, too – nightmare!

  4. rpg says:

    Ha ha. People get The Scientist and New Scientist confused too.

    As I discovered in my last job.

  5. cromercrox says:

    … and we at Nature still get people thinking we’re a magazine that’s all about wildlife. My father, though, when I got the job, was disappointed that it wasn’t a magazine for nudists.

    … and a former colleague who went to work for Cell subtitled it ‘The Journal of Penal Servitude’.

  6. There has also been a trend by some of the errrm, lower-end scientific publishers to take the titles of well-known and long-established ‘Journal of..‘ journals and stick the words “Open” or “International” on the front to get the title of their ‘new’ journal. Any confusion, one feels, is purely intentional.

  7. rpg says:

    Logical conclusion: International Journal of
    Open Biology.

  8. Frank says:

    Interesting range of confusions there. Most of them I’m OK with.

    Genome Biology is one of BMC’s flagship titles that caused confusion by being an OA journal that you still needed a subscription to if you wanted to read some of the content. Genome Research is a more straightforward affair.

    Virology used to be the title at the end of our main alphabetic sequence of print journals, and it was one of the Academic Press titles in our very first big deal back in 1999. J Virology is one of the ASM titles and I got a rollicking from our virologists one year when ASM cut it off for Jo god reason, as they were wont to do. Not quite sure about Virology Journal but I think it’s one of the BMC range.

    New Scientist is the magazine I used to buy every week when I was a teenager because I wanted to be geeky and it felt grown-up, but I could never get round to actually reading it so I had enormous piles of unread magazines in my bedroom until I finally gave up buying it. The Scientist is the thing that used to be a free weekly newspaper then not free, then free again, etc etc so I never was quite sure about it, then it went through various rounds of reinvention.

    All these journals I got to know at different times, so it’s easier to remember. The ones that confuse me are those I got to know at the same time, or that all get launched about the same time.

  9. Frank says:

    As for the IJOB, at least it is a bit more interesting than, say, Scientific Reports.

  10. Frank says:

    Another perspective on the Open Biology/Biology Open etc etc series of journals is over at the OpenBioMed blog.

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