Friday, July 27, 2007

Worst title change

The ALCTS Serials Section, the folks who give the award for the Worst Serial Title Change each year, have just announced their own title change: they will now be known as the Continuing Resources Section. This does not further our profession's ability to communicate with the world around us.

Meanwhile, I was looking at the Bibliographic Ontology, work being done by some individual academics who wish to create a standard for the expression of academic citations. Their vocabulary is also notable: they have documents (article, book, patent...) and they have collections (journal, magazine, periodical). I've been in discussions before where people were declaring journals and magazines as separate document types and I've never gotten a definition that I found satisfactory, although there's no question that if you put Journal of Immunological Methods beside Vogue, no one would have trouble seeing them as different publication types.

Unfortunately the ontology defines a journal as "A collection of journal Articles," and a magazine as "A collection of magazine Articles." I have to say that's not very ontological of them.

Some of the suggestions made at the recent meeting on the Future of Bibliographic Control encourage us to get more bibliographic creation integrated into the authoring and publication workflows. I have long felt the need for a standard bibliographic model for citations which would make linking between citations and their cited documents easier, and one that could be used by common document creation software. The Bibliographic Ontology unfortunately internalizes too much nerdy academic practice, but at least it uses words that most academics might understand. It's patently clear that we librarians cannot go out into the world talking about "continuing resources" and hope to meet with any comprehension. This is just one small illustration of the gap that we need to cross before we can talk to anyone outside of our own secret cabal.

6 comments:

Simon Spero said...

To distinguish them from monographs, shouldn't we call them polygraphs?

The bibliographic ontology emerged from world of citation analysis and management, where differentia difference between a magazine and a journal would seem to be whether it is cited by volume and page, or by date.

I would cite the MLA style guide, using APA format, but I fear my head would fall off.

edjones said...

FWIW, the name change reflects a change in scope that mirrors a similar change in scope for AACR2 chapter 12. (The change in the committee's name is actually somewhat tardy.) The term "continuing resources" is a precise one that encompasses both serials and what are called "integrating resources" (resources the content of which changes dynamically over time, such as databases, looseleaf services, and most websites). As for communicating with the outside world, I couldn't have told you what a "serial" was until I became a librarian a century or so ago, so I don't see "continuing resources"
as particularly muddying the waters.

--Ed Jones

Anonymous said...

To follow up with Ed's comment, people who are not librarians have never known what a serial really means. Journals or magazines are more commonly known. Journal section?

Also, that award has not been given out for several years.

Mary Page said...

I don't see a problem with using professional lingo within a professional community. We need to be more thoughtful about naming conventions that create barriers to user access, like using "media" when the rest of the world talks about "movies." I'm sure AMA has specialized sections whose names I wouldn't understand, but I don't need to understand the inner workings of another professional community.

Avi said...

I'd like to see simplification: treating ongoing collections (journals, magazines, and series) as much the same as possible. They all have dates, articles, authors, page numbers; some have volumes, some have issues, some have editors. Making a distinction is only really important in obsessively traditional bibliographies...

Avi said...

I'd like to see simplification: treating ongoing collections (journals, magazines, and series) as much the same as possible. They all have dates, articles, authors, page numbers; some have volumes, some have issues, some have editors. Making a distinction is only really important in obsessively traditional bibliographies...