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I have noticed that the copy editors of at least two publishers (the American Institute for Physics and American Physical Society) do something weird when they copy-edit my submitted papers. For all references to papers in Nature, which I include in my references as such:

J. W. Doe, Nature 197, 412 (1974)

they replace “Nature” by “Nature (London)”:

J. W. Doe, Nature (London) 197, 412 (1974)

I do not understand why they do that! I know it is customary in they style for books to have a city next to the publisher name (though I don't think it is very relevant in this day and age), but why do it for journals? Are there multiple different editions of Nature?

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    The first thing for me to say is I do not know, but I assume it is because they need to differentiate with another journal. According to the Web of Science list of journal abbreviations Nature should be listed as"Nature" and nothing else. There is another journal called Nature but with the abbreviation "Cah Rev The". I think yu can strongly argue for nature as "Nature" based on the fact that it is the Web of Science abbreviation and that "(London)" is not part of it. It would at least be interesting to know why they chose a non-s – Peter Jansson Apr 18 '13 at 9:05
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For these journals, the copy editor is correct. "Nature (London)" is listed in the American Physical Society's house style for abbreviations, which makes it the standard abbreviation for APS journals, and it is also in the American Institute of Physics's list. It's not part of a general pattern of including locations, but rather a special case.

Presumably the inclusion of "London" was originally intended to avoid some long-ago ambiguity, perhaps with La Nature. It sounds like La Nature was more of a popular magazine about science than a modern scientific journal, but then again so was Nature in its early history.

There is no serious ambiguity about the name Nature today, but publishers are reluctant to change abbreviations, partly out of fear that if you've been using a specific abbreviation for many decades, a careful reader may wonder whether a different abbreviation is a mistake or even refers to another journal.

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Indeed, according to both AIP style guide, as well as APS style guide, references to journal articles should be referred to without a place of publication. However, in the ACS style guide on page 9, you can read the following:

For some periodicals whose CASSI abbreviation includes a place of publication, you need not add the place of publication unless its omission would create ambiguity. If CASSI lists only one journal with a given main title, there is no ambiguity in omitting the place of publication.

And indeed, the CASSI tool entry for Nature reads as follows:

Displaying Record for Publication: Nature (London, United Kingdom)

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  • Thanks… though it makes me wonder why CASSI has Nature (London, UK) while it clearly is nowhere to be found in the official title in the Nature journal or its web pages… – F'x Apr 18 '13 at 9:57

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