Sunday, 13 May 2012

Acronym Confusion

The names of museums are often added to scientific papers as acronyms.  It occurred to me that if the pterosaur database included a searchable list of museum information, the appropriate acronyms could be used to link the museums to specimens.
This idea sounds good, but the truth is that museum acronyms are not standard.  Above is a picture of The Natural History Museum, London.  This is represented in many of the old papers as BMNH or BM(NH).  In newer papers it is seen as NHM, NHM London, NHMUK, NHMGB or BMNHL.  The change in name from British Museum of Natural History to Natural History Museum has been an issue here.
There are a number of websites that allow you to match a museum acronym to a museum.  In Europe, the Natural History Museum London usually comes up as NHMUK;  on U.S. searches it comes up as BMNH.  There seems to be no means of standardising the acronyms across the world, especially in scientific papers that were written some time ago.

To start to address this problem, I have written to the Museums Association in London to see if they have an existing UK standard for acronyms.  Lets see how we go on from there!

If anyone has any sound information I would like to hear about it.

Footnote:  An E-mail from the Museums Association informs me that the old ERGMA system of the 1970's, which allocated a code to every museum, was not supported by all museums and was dispensed with many years ago.  There is no clear standardisation of Museum Acronyms in the UK.

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