What happens to all those journal titles?

There cannot be many eXtyles users who have never encountered this message: “eXtyles does not recognize the journal XYZ (in reference ABC). If this is a valid journal title, please send this reference to [email protected] and we will add it to the eXtyles journal database.” Many Edifix users will have seen a similar message.

Word comment balloon: eXtyles does not recognize the journal "Journal of Unreproducible Results" (in reference "Smith, 2015"). If this is a valid journal title, please send this reference to journals@inera.champawesome.com and we will add it to the eXtyles journal database

Where do “recognized” journal titles come from?

The journal database team at Inera receives 100–200 such journal titles each month, for which we are extremely grateful. Updates from users are one of the main ways in which the journal database is expanded into new subject areas and kept up to date as new journals are started all the time. In addition, previously unlisted journals are brought to our attention by new customers or uncovered during training sessions, and new titles are also found during sweeps of other journal lists such as ISI Web of Science and the NLM Catalog. These titles all potentially add to the total of over 42,000 journals already included in the Inera journal database.

Edifix users have the advantage of accessing the latest Inera journal database as soon as the online files are updated. For eXtyles users, each new build that ships to a customer contains the latest versions of the database files. And now, as of March 2016, eXtyles users can also download the latest versions of the files themselves, either manually or automatically (daily, weekly, or monthly). More information about the Journal Database Update feature can be found here. If you don’t yet have this functionality or would like more information, please contact [email protected].

Screenshot of the eXtyles About box, showing the date this user last updated the Journal Database and the "Update Journal Database" button

Why doesn’t eXtyles recognize this title?

We wanted to explain what happens after we receive notification of a journal that “eXtyles does not recognize.” The reasons for this lack of recognition may be more complex than the original reporter imagined, and an understanding of the range of reasons why a journal is not recognized may smooth the process of getting new titles into the database.

Reason 1:  The journal just isn’t listed in the database

Here are some journals that were recently reported through [email protected]:

  • Asian-Pacific Law and Policy Journal
  • Energy Research & Social Science
  • Environmental Innovation & Societal Transitions

A quick check of the ISSN Database revealed that these are all valid journal names, and none of them was listed in the Inera journal database. So far, so straightforward. These three titles were all duly added to the database.

Reason 2: The supplied journal name isn’t quite right

Here’s another journal that was sent in to the journal database email address:

  • Orthopedics Clinics of America

The reporter of this title helpfully sent in a URL for the article that was referenced in their document, and it was quickly apparent that the article actually appeared in this journal:

  • The Orthopedic Clinics of North America

The reference restructuring technology used by eXtyles and Edifix doesn’t just look for an exact journal match; it’s much cleverer than that. As well as using “fuzzy” matching (for example, the title Birding ASIA will be recognized, even though the correct title has no space, BirdingASIA) and other pattern-matching tricks (we will recognize a journal whether or not the name starts with “The”, for example), we maintain what we call our “bad” journal database. Not so much a list of misbehaving journals, but a database of “non-standard” names and abbreviations that might be used in place of the definitive versions maintained in the Inera journal database. For example, many authors will cite Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America as PNAS, although its definitive abbreviation is Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA.

By adding Orthopedic Clinics of America to the bad journal database, eXtyles and Edifix will recognize this non-standard wording and convert it automatically to the correct journal title, which was already listed in the journal database. In some cases, we can’t safely add a non-standard title to the “bad” journal database. For example, a few months ago, this journal was reported:

  • Journal of Occupational Behavior

Again, the reporter helpfully included a DOI for the cited article and the full reference. Looking up the DOI revealed that the journal name was actually Journal of Organizational Behavior. Since a journal called Journal of Occupational Behavior might already exist or might be started in the future, we can’t safely change Journal of Occupational Behavior automatically to Journal of Organizational Behavior.

Reason 3: The journal name is in the database. Hang on a minute…

Of the most recent 12 titles reported to [email protected], six were already listed in the latest version of the journal database. What’s going on here?

There are two basic reasons why a journal that is already included in the journal database might be reported as unrecognized. 

1. The user’s journal database files are out of date

Until recently, the journal database files for an eXtyles user were generally only updated when a new eXtyles build was delivered, meaning that they might be as much as a year out of date compared with the most recent version. However, with builds dating from March 2016 or later, the user can now update their local copies of the journal database files either manually or automatically. This should mean that users will always have access to a very recent version of the journal database, as the files available for download are currently updated every 2 weeks.

2. Something else is wrong with the reference

A few months ago, a reporter sent a PDF of an article from this journal, asking that it be added to the journal database:

  • IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing

However, this title was already in the journal database, and had been there for several years. In the absence of any more information, it was impossible to tell why this user had seen this journal reported as “unrecognized.”

The journal database team reached out to the reporter, asking them to provide the full reference that they had attempted to process through eXtyles.

In the original reference, the journal was given as:

  • Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on

This non-standard version of the journal name was not included in the “bad” journal database, explaining why eXtyles reported an unrecognized journal title.

In summary: A polite request and a huge “thank you!”

This last example shows why the original eXtyles comment asks reporters to supply the reference, not just the journal name or a PDF of the cited article, to [email protected]. In the absence of more information, if we find that a journal that is reported is already listed in the database, we can’t tell whether this is because the user’s journal database files were out of date, or because eXtyles or Edifix somehow failed to process the original reference.

The ideal source material for us to investigate is the original reference, before eXtyles or Edifix processing. This shows us what the reference restructuring code “saw,” and will generally allow us to diagnose quickly why a listed journal was not recognized as such. This may even reveal further refinements that can be made to the code. If you’ve already tracked the journal down yourself, the ISSN and/or a journal website or article URL will likely save us time.

We remain extremely grateful to each and every user who takes the time to report unrecognized journals to us. Without you, the reference restructuring technology used by eXtyles and Edifix would not be the powerful weapon that it is today. Journal reporters—we salute you!


Want to learn even more about the journal database? Check out Why we love our Journal Database (and you should too)!