What’s in an acronym?

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Many scientists (and editors) lament the proliferation of acronyms in the literature, especially for describing methods. As editors of a methods journal, we have some definite opinions about when acronyms are useful, when a new acronym is unnecessary, and what makes a good (or bad) acronym. We discuss this in depth in our July issue Editorial.

A good acronym to describe a novel method gives the research community a simple and effective way to refer to the method. However, optimizations of the method or adaptations for a different application usually do not justify the creation of a new acronym. This trivializes the original advance and the proliferation of similar-sounding acronyms creates confusion in the community. Researchers should be judicious in creating acronyms for methods and think hard about whether a new acronym is truly necessary.

Feel free to share your thoughts about the use—and misuse—of acronyms!

Allison Doerr

Chief Editor, Nature Methods, Springer Nature

Allison has been an editor with Nature Methods since 2005, and chief editor since November 2018. She has been responsible for all areas of biochemistry for the journal, including structural biology and proteomics. Prior to her editorial career, she completed her Ph.D. in Chemistry at Princeton University, where she studied de novo protein design and protein-ligand interactions using NMR spectroscopy.
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