After about five days in intensive post-AGU recovery, I’d like to raise a plea for some mercy when it comes to those clever abbreviations scientists invent for their projects.
Granted, stretching the English language is a venerated activity. It worked for James Joyce, Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, William S. Burroughs, etc. etc. But if you are a tenured scientist with multiple NSF grants under your belt, take it from me: you have better things to do with your time than think up words that have something to do with your project and sort-of make a cute word like ReSciPE when you abbreviate them.
In my brief time running with the oceanography crowd, I have barely survived a mini-assault by the likes of ORION, MARS, PLUTO, VENUS, NEPTUNE and most of the remaining denizens of Mt. Olympus, not to mention their assorted demons and troglodytes with less recognizable names like ASIMET, BIOMAPER, REMUS, OceanSITES, MOOS, and ABE. (For those of you who think I am making this up, those gods/planets above are the Ocean Research Interactive Observatory Networks, the Monterey Accelerated Research System, the Panama Liquid jungle lab Undersea Tropical Observatory, the Victoria Experimental Network Under the Sea and the North-East Pacific Time-series Undersea Networked Experiments, god help us.)
My advice? If you want to give your project a cute name, JUST NAME IT and then tell people YOU THINK IT HAS A NICE RING. That way when you find something earth-shattering and journalists are dying to write about it, they don’t have to spend 30 percent of their word limit just explaining what it stands for.
If I sound a little punchy, well, here’s a taste of the acronym-battering one must endure at AGU week. Here’s a sampling of acronyms plucked from the titles of talks given at the meeting, starting with my favorite: PUS (for Public Understanding of Science). Then there’s ReSciPE, TEXAQS/GoMACCS, SEAREX, EARLINET, ELF, CALIPSO, PARASOL, CRYSTAL-FACE, TROCCINEX/TroCCiBras, MASTER, MECA, WISDOM, SCREAM, CLUSTER, STEREO, GLIMPSE, MELT, PKIIKP, IRIS, PANTHER, CR-AVE, DADDI, MORVEL, SCAMPI, SPICE, SuperDARN, CHIRP.
And that was just Thursday and Friday. All I can say is T.G.I.F.
(image thanks to some inventive baby bib makers)