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SUBTITLES: A SAMPLING OF SUBTLETIES, SUBTERFUGES, AND SUBTOPICS ALBERT WEISSMAN* Readers of Perspectives in Biology and Medicine might have noticed that beneath the title appear these words: "Division of the Biological Sciences /The University ofChicago." The meaning ofthese two lines would be clearer were the implied words, "sponsored by,"1 included. No matter : This is a minor infraction. Suppose instead that the cover confronted readers with more unexpected words under the title, for instance , "The International Journal of Physiological Artistry." Perhaps readers would then be as perplexed as I was on first discovering that Teratology, one of 700 or so journals received by Pfizer's Medical Research Library, finds it necessary to amplify its snappy title with these words: "The International Journal of Abnormal Development." Why the definite article? Why "International"? And is "Abnormal Development " intended to be a synonymous paraphrase for Teratology, guarding against the remote possibility that some reader, subscriber, or contributor does not know what teratology means? If so, why the redundancy ? If the editor doesn't think Teratology is sufficiently clear, couldn't he replace the title with the subtitle? And why should the phrase chosen be such a dissatisfying synonym for teratology? Abnormal psychosexual development, for example, surely qualifies as a type of "abnormal development ," but is it teratology? Even if it might be so construed, must the editor of Teratology use the cover of hisjournal instead ofhis instructions to authors or his editorial pages to espouse a potentially controversial point of view? '"Sponsored by" does not precede "Division ofthe Biological Sciences/The University of Chicago" because we consider it redundant. We cherish the clarity espoused by Albert Weissman but wish he would place comparable emphasis on brevity.—The Editors.»Department of Pharmacology, Pfizer, Inc., Eastern Point Road, Groton, Connecticut 06340.© 1987 by The University of Chicago. AU rights reserved. 0031-5982/87/3004-0532$01.00 Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 30, 4 · Summer 1987 \ 575 I espied Toxicology next, just a step away: "An International Journal Concerned with the Effects of Chemicals on Living Systems." Again "International," this time with an indefinite article. But All "Effects"? All "Chemicals"? All "Living Systems"? Couldn't the editor leave a morsel or two for pharmacologists, my own fraternity? And does the editor of Toxicology imply that therapeutic effects of drugs in humans (surely one example of "Effects of Chemicals on Living Systems") are included, either in the discipline or in the range of papers published by the journal? These ruminative queries prompted me to scan the covers of all the journals our library receives and to dwell especially on the 50 percent or so that proffer subtitles. My curiosity was amply rewarded. Subtitles appear to mirror attitudes, ambitions and foibles of editors, publishers, and sponsors, as this sampling will illustrate. Most commonly, subtitles identify a sponsoring society, department, or school, as is the case for Perspectives, and more often than not the sponsor's name is preceded by such words as "Published by ..." or "An official publication of ..." A single sponsor is usually identified, but the list can get ponderous. TheJournal ofBone andJoint Surgery, whose cover is otherwise unadorned, lists no fewer than 12 sponsoring orthopaedic associations, academies, or societies. Yet "Orthopaedic" doesn't appear in its title. The sponsor ofPharmacology and Therapeutics appears to be an encyclopedia, for above that apparently official title appears this subtitle (or "supratitle"): "The Journal of the International Encyclopedia of Pharmacology and Therapeutics." Sometimes auspices become endorsements . Computers and Biomedical Research, "An International Journal," is not only "An Official Publication of the American Association for Medical Systems and Informatics" but is also explicitly "Endorsed by the American College of Medical Informatics." The subtitle of Annah of Allergy has a slightly different twist: "Devoted to the Interests of the Practicing Allergist." And sponsorship sometimes creeps into the title itself, as in FEBS Letters, although the phrases that constitute the subtitle of that journal ("For the Rapid Publication of Short Reports in Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology") do not decipher FEBS. In an informal poll of five experienced Pfizer biochemists, all of whom were very familiar with FEBS Letters, not one was able to decode FEBS correctly, "Federation of European Biochemical Societies...


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