Journal style (and common copyediting practice) is to expand all "author-created" acronyms, abbreviations, and initialisms (ie, short forms that do not appear frequently when searched in PubMed or Google). We strongly discourage using too many "author-created" abbreviations in papers. As we are an electronic journal, we do not have similar constraints to print journals with regard to word count and/or layout.
Abbreviations, in general, may appear freely throughout the main body of an article, but for the purposes of readability should not be present in the abstract (unless they occur ≥3 times).
There are some exceptions to this guideline, however:
- Acceptable abbreviations featured on this list can be used without expansion anywhere in the paper; see Which abbreviations don't need to be expanded?
- Acronyms for terms that are better known or more frequently referred to by their acronym should be kept in parentheses in the abstract after the first mention (eg, The United States Medical Licensing Exam (USLME) is a 3-step...) and can also remain in the title unexpanded (eg,
Leveraging mHealth and Patient Supporters for African Americans' and Latinxs' Engagement in HIV Care (LEAN): Protocol for a...).
- In particular, psychological or medical assessment instrument names should be expanded with their abbreviations in parentheses to aid article discoverability, information retrieval, and indexing. Adding well-known acronyms to the Keywords section can also aid in information retrieval.
When in doubt, doing a Google or PubMed search or looking for a Wikipedia article using the abbreviation may help to determine how well known an acronym is.
For complete guidelines on the use of abbreviations, please refer to JMIR's House Style and Editorial Guidelines.