A year ago, I came up with a great acronym for our project – ICIS – what do I do now?

About a year ago, when we starting meeting and discussing our new project on the future of scholarly communications, we decided it would be important to have a title and if possible a brief acronym. Now – I love coming up with such project names and acronyms and think I have done a good job with such tasks in the past.  Somehow I wanted to find a cool acronym for a project on scholarly communication, and publishing, and openness, and social media and more.  And I just could not come up with anything great.  

And this was starting to get semi urgent since we had a meeting coming up and needed to make a web site and needed names and titles and such.  So the group of us involved in the project (myself, Mackenzie Smith and Mario Biagioli) started sending around ideas to each other. Among the ideas first proposed:

  • IFHA Innovating Academic Publishing Project
  • The UC Davis IFHA project on Innovating Academic Publishing” with a project acronym of IAP

But I did not like this so I started doodling:

Screenshot 2014-10-23 14.36.48

Screenshot 2014-10-23 14.35.45

So I compiled some ideas and sent around a list

  • ISP: Innovating Scholarly Publishing
  • iSP: Innovating Scholarly Publishing
  • i2SP: Innovations in Scholarly Publishing  (with the 2 being a superscript)
  • i2AP: Innovations in Academic Publishing  (with the 2 being a superscript)
  • i2SP2: Innovations in Scholarly Publishing Project  (with the 2 being a superscript)
  • i2AP2: Innovations in Academic Publishing Project  (with the 2 being a superscript)
  • IN-A-PUB: Innovating Academic Publishing
  • SP2.0: Scholarly Publishing 2.0

Other ideas circulated (some mine, some others)

  • LIAP: Lab for Innovating Scholarly Communication, pronounced LEAP?
  • Innovating Academic Communication – IACOM
  • Innovating Academic Publishing – IAPUB
  • Innovating Scholarly Publishing – ISPUB
  • Innovating Scholarly Communication – ISCOM or INSCOM
  • COMMIS: communications innovation in scholarship

And then I came up with one I loved and sent around a suggestion:

“ok here is my favorite so far – innovating communication in scholarship – ICIS (pronounced isis —)”

Other ideas circulated:

  • pubs 2.0
  • innopubs
  • scholar 2.0

But I said I still liked ICIS best and, well, it won.  Yay.  We had a project name.   And we used it for our meetings and our website: icis.ucdavis.edu.  I was so proud of this name.  It sounded nice.  It conjured up images of ISIS the Goddess.  And every time we discussed the project I could remember the struggle to come up with a name and how happy I was when it came to me.

And then the ICIS name got, well, polluted.  Or, at least, the sound of the name got polluted by the group known variously as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (aka ISIL), Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (aka ISIS).  And though I would hope it would be clear that our ICIS project is not connected in any way to ISIL/ISIS.  But yet, when I mention the project name to people, I invariable get some comment.  And Alison Fish, the first post doc working on the project just told me that she also gets some murmuring when she mentions the name during talks.

So we are in the midst of our annual retreat for the project now.  We have six people working on the project – myself, Mario Biagioli, Mackenzie Smith, Allison Fish, Alessandro Delfanti, and Alexandra Lippman.  And we all liek the ICIS name but are not sure what to do now?  So – in the interest of openness and communication I proposed to everyone (and they at least seemed to agree) that it might be good to ask the broader community for input here.

So – any suggestions?  What do you recommend we do?  Should we change the name?  Change how we say it?  Should we stick to our name and pronunciation?  And ideas, thoughts, or suggestions would be welcome.

Curating a Storify About this

Best evidence yet that we should do away with the "Candidatus" terminology used for uncultured microbes

Just got this email:

Dear Jonathan , I am relatively new to phylogenetics and have developed a keen interest in bacterial phylogenies. I read one the papers which you have published in Nature on the same topic. I needed some help. Thing is, I have constructed a bacterial phylogeny based on 16s rRNA and have found that Candidatus species differ by a really great extent from one another, and appear to be in completely different clades. I need some way to verify this and was wondering if you could send me the phylogeny you have created in order for me to verify. Thank you

I have been arguing for years that the use of the term “Candidatus” to describe microbes is a bad idea.  This email is exactly the kind of thing I worry about.  Candidatus is a term used “for well characterized but as yet uncultured organisms.” (A nice description of the history of the term is here).  The problem with Candidatus are many – including the confusion such as evidenced by this email – in that people who are not used to dealing with the term have no clue what it means.  But in addition, the constraint that one is not “allowed” to name things unless they have been cultured is silly, outdated, and damaging to the field.  But I can write about that some other time.  For now, this email will suffice …

Some examples of Candidatus names from http://www.bacterio.net/candidatus.html