I currently want to cite this article from the Journal of Fluid Mechanics, but what strikes me is the high volume number (879). To what I have found:

the volume number refers to the number of years a journal has been in publication

So could it be that long?

  • 27
    The statement you've quoted is not true for all journals. Perhaps you should provide a citation for the statement. Commented Jul 8 at 11:24
  • 4
    Granted I spend my time in the humanities, not natural sciences, but I don’t know of a single journal where volume number = number of years the journal has been published. Even for the ones where the aim is to publish exactly one volume every year, something inevitably goes wrong at some point to break the equivalence. Commented Jul 9 at 10:26
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    In addition, even where there are yearly volumes, they often run from a random month (feb-feb), so finding the volume from the year is further complicated. Then there are journals where the month epoch changes, particularly around things like 1940 (for journals published in europe)...
    – 2e0byo
    Commented Jul 9 at 11:52
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    Check out Proceedings of SPIE. They're on volume 13211 as of now; they publish one volume per conference, and for the SPIE, that works out to be more than 1 a day.
    – user71659
    Commented Jul 9 at 18:09
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    In the same vein as the comment of Nij (and to add some data) in this case it is extremely easy to ascertain the truth of the matter, for example by using Mathscinet: mathscinet.ams.org/mathscinet/serials/issues?groupId=2338 The linked search returns 1054 issues with the latest one in volume 988. (The listing there has some gaps, but checking the journal website shows that there are indeed 988 volumes to date.) The current output appears to be 24 volumes per year. Commented Jul 10 at 15:28

3 Answers 3


From the website it looks like they publish a "volume" every two weeks which would mean that the journal is somewhat between 30 and 40 years old.

I do not know if there is a universally agreed upon standard for what a "volume" should mean. The purpose of a citation is to identify the source exactly and uniquely so just cite it as the journal indicates. Everything is fine with the journal.

  • 26
    Spend enough time here and you learn there's no universally agreed-upon standard for anything. Commented Jul 8 at 12:24
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    The Journal of Alloys and Compounds is now up to volume 1002. Some use the same volume number for multiple issues in one year. some use the same volume number for multiple issues in half a year. Some use the volume number for each issue. Publishers are weird...
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jul 8 at 13:03
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    @JonCuster And the current volume number of Journal of High Energy Physics is 2024 because they just use the year to label volumes.
    – Anyon
    Commented Jul 8 at 13:45
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    @Anyon - wait, that actually makes sense! How could that be???
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jul 8 at 13:50
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    I think the "standard" for a volume is "a reasonable number of pages to fit in a single physical bound volume". That's the original purpose of volume numbering, after all, even if it has mostly become irrelevant with online publishing. So it makes sense that a big journal which puts out a lot of pages per year would need several volumes per year. Commented Jul 8 at 15:06

JFM is a big journal, and has been around for quite a while (since 1956 actually). It's potentially the most prestigeous fluid mechanics journal (potentially second to Physics of Fluids according to some faculty I know), so there is never a shortage of articles, and a high volume number is natural.


Journal volume numbering practices are not universal. While a significant number may follow an annual volume model consisting of of some number of issues, that is far from accepted standard. There are several common practices.

  • volumes begin with number 1 and contain some number of issues - often monthly or weekly.
  • volumes begin with the year of publication and correspond to the year of publication, and consist of issues as above
  • the volume numbers themselves are assigned for each issue, which are published monthly or weekly, with no subissues (this is likely the situation you are describing)

There are other possibilities, of course, but these are the most common.

If you consider that a monthly "volume" for a journal would rack up about around 600 volumes between over 50 years, and weekly "volumes" would rack up some 2,600 volumes over the same period, the number you cite is not unreasonable. Just look to the journal's publication history and dates, as well as their "About the journal" page to see their typical publication schedule. As someone above mentioned, this journal publishes every two weeks currently, so assuming that same pace for their entire publication history, they would have published more than 1,768 volumes since they launched in 1956 ((2000-1956)*26 issues per year).

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