I found that a journal changed its name after 2005. The paper which I am citing is from 2004. Does it matter if I use the current journal name or should I cite the paper using the (old) journal name in 2004?

1 Answer 1


Cite the journal name that was used at the time of publication. For example, the British Medical Journal officially changed title to BMJ in 1988. Cite articles from 1987 and earlier as Br Med J, not BMJ.

(Source: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 2nd edition.)

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    I have a question about this specific use case, although you personally may not know, since you quoted it from a source - why would the journal be referred to as "Br Med J" prior to 1988, instead of "British Medical Journal"? Is it common in the medical field to shorten journal names in that way?
    – Jake
    Oct 13, 2015 at 13:00
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    @Jake: Not just medicine; abbreviating journal titles is a common practice in many fields and publication styles. Most journal titles have a "standard" abbreviation. It may start to become less common as journals shift to online publishing and space requirements are less of a factor. Oct 13, 2015 at 14:21
  • Thank you @NateEldredge - I've never seen this before, and having a 2-3-1 letter abbreviation seemed very strange to me. I guess I'm just too used to doing things online!
    – Jake
    Oct 13, 2015 at 15:39
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    But life's too short to read through titles like the "International journal for numerical methods in engineering", whether or not you are online. The official (ISO standard) abbreviation is "Int. j. numer. meth. engng" but most people working in the field would recognize "IJNME" - it's been around for almost 50 years.
    – alephzero
    Oct 13, 2015 at 19:01
  • To second @ff524, BMJ is not the sole example I know of a journal, where the name changed. Angewandte Chemie (literally "applied chemistry") intially German only, introduced in 1962 "Angewandte Chemie International Edition in English" (according to ISO-4 "Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl."), than changed 1998 into "Angewandte Chemie International Edition" ("Angew. Chem. Int. Ed."). ISO-4 (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_4) lists the typical abbrevation of journals as they are used in publications. CASSI (cassi.cas.org/search.jsp) offers to find the abbreviations, too.
    – Buttonwood
    Oct 13, 2015 at 20:38

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