Email list hosting service & mailing list manager

Re: ISSN discrepancies (Sally Morris) ERCELAA@ctrvax.Vanderbilt.Edu 16 May 2002 16:10 UTC

Date: Thu, 16 May 2002 10:49:55 +0100
From: Sally Morris <sec-gen@ALPSP.ORG>
Subject: Re: ISSN discrepancies (M. Jessie Barczak)

See also below for information on Journal title changes
and ISSN.


Sally Morris, Secretary-General
Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers
South House, The Street, Clapham, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 3UU, UK

Phone:  01903 871686 Fax:  01903 871457 E-mail:
ALPSP Website

Journal title changes

Before changing a journal title, consider whether the new title conflicts
with an existing journal - not just whether there is already another journal
with the same name, but also whether there is potential confusion between
titles (e.g. Journal of Geriatric Medicine and Geriatric Medicine Journal).
Titles cannot be copyright (see separate advice note on Copyright in
Journals), but if you select a title that already exists the other publisher
could in principle sue you for 'passing off' your journal as theirs (i.e.
making a profit out of their name).

Also consider your market: placing country or region names within a title
may be interpreted to mean that the journal  only represents a specific
region of the world;  particularly in America there is a bias against
journals with 'European' or a nationality - e.g. 'British' - in the title.
Note that subtitles are not used in citations, catalogues or indexes, so the
main title must be self-explanatory;  adding 'an international history
journal' under the title will have little impact on how the journal is
perceived.  Specifying frequency (e.g. Quarterly Journal of.) is also an
unwise hostage to fortune.

Always think very hard before changing the title of a journal.  The new
title may describe the journal more accurately, but unless the journal has
changed to such an extent that the old title is misleading - or you have
some legal reason which obliges you to make the change - the disadvantages
may well outweigh the advantages.  Your impact factor will have to be
recalculated from scratch; the only potential exception to this is if the
journal's position in alphabetical listings is unchanged.  You will probably
also have to assign a new ISSN to the journal - check with the ISSN centre
( whether this applies in your particular case.

Here is what ISI told us about title changes and impact factor:
"In the first year after a title change, the new title is listed without an
impact factor, because the article count for the two preceding years used in
impact factor calculations is zero. The superseded title is listed with a
normal impact factor. One year later, the JCR lists separate impact factors
for the new title and for the superseded title. In this second year, the
impact factor for a new title may be lower than expected, because the
article count includes only younger articles. Similarly, the impact factor
for the superseded title may be higher than expected because it is based
upon only older articles. To calculate a unified impact factor, the user can
total the citations to the two previous years and divide that by the sum of
the article counts for the two titles. For a listing of journal title
changes, where both the new title and the superseded title appear in the
JCR, see the Journal Title Changes page, which is accessible from the
Journal Search page and the Summary List page."

Here is what the ISSN centre's website says about the circumstances when an
ISSN should be changed:
"A new ISSN is assigned when the title of the publication is changed. All
other possible changes are not taken into account (change of publisher,
place of publication, frequency, editorial policy...). However, all mergers
with other serials, supplements, other editions etc. should be submitted to
the relevant ISSN Centre which may decide that separate ISSN are needed.   A
new ISSN is assigned when a title changes because the basis of the ISSN
system is the pair ISSN key/title, both unique. If the same ISSN was to be
retained, attached to several titles, ambiguity would crop up again."

If you do decide that a title change is inevitable, make sure that it is
well publicised in advance to librarians and subscription agents;  otherwise
their systems may fail to recognise the retitled journal.  Let them know as
soon as possible - don't wait until your annual pricing updates.
Subscription agents will be able to inform current subscribers about the
change on your behalf.   It is wise to continue to show the old title and
ISSN, as well as the new (e.g. 'formerly Journal of Archaeology' or
'incorporating Bulletin of ALPSP') on the front cover for at least a year.
It is also helpful to mention the previous title/ISSN on documentation such
as price lists and invoices, listed under both the old ('now published as.')
and new ('formerly published as.') titles.

Sally Morris, Secretary-General
Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers
South House, The Street, Clapham, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 3UU, UK

Phone:  01903 871686 Fax:  01903 871457 E-mail:
ALPSP Website

Learned Publishing is now online, free of charge, at