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Japanese National Centre for ISSN

Serial Publications and ISSN

Serial publications -- for example, periodicals, newspapers, and yearbooks -- differ from books in that serials often undergo changes in their titles, publishers, frequency of publication etc. Moreover, the number of published serials amounts to hundreds of thousands in the world and is said to be increasing at a pace of tens of thousands every year.
To gain accurate information on serials in spite of their fluid nature and vast number is an important but challenging task for users, libraries, publishers, publication distributors, and vendors alike. In response, publishers and libraries draw upon computers to manage serials information and facilitate the distribution and use of serial publications.
Consequently it has become necessary to identify serials by their code numbers, while the ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) is a widely recognized numbering system for serial publications. The ISSN system is managed by an organization called the "ISSN Network."

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ISSN Network

The ISSN Network was created as part of the UNISIST (World Science Information System) which was established through the resolution of the 1967 UNESCO general conference. In 1971 the ISO formulated a draft ISSN standard, followed in 1972 by the establishment of an international serials registration centre in Paris by the concerted effort of UNESCO and the French government.
UNESCO member nations were invited to create their own domestic or regional registration centres in order to expand the serials registration data to the world size.
The ISSN Network is an international organization promoting the exchange of information on serial publications among national centres with the ISSN International Centre at Paris serving as the data bank.
As of October 2018, the ISSN Network embraced 90 national centres. The National Diet Library, which acquires national serial publications exhaustively as the only national and deposit library in Japan, plays a role as the Japanese National Centre for ISSN.

Here is the link to the ISSN Manual used commonly in the ISSN Network:

*Note that the Japanese National Centre for ISSN manages requests for ISSN in a partially different way.

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ISSN and Key Titles

Under the ISSN system, a serial is defined as a publication issued in successive parts, usually having numerical or chronological designations and intended to be continued indefinitely. Serials include periodicals, newspapers, annuals (reports, yearbooks, etc.), the journals, memoirs, proceedings, transactions, etc. of societies, and monographic series. When a serial publication is registered at the ISSN International Centre, a code number (ISSN) is given and a publication name called "key title" is assigned. Each key title is required to be necessary and sufficient to identify the registered serial publication.
If the key title must be changed, the ISSN of the publication is also changed irrespective of the reasons for change such as the merger and split of serial publications. Once assigned to a publication, an ISSN will never be reused in another publication even if the first publication becomes defunct. It is the responsibility of the national centres to decide a key title, assign an ISSN, and carry out international registration for each serial publication published in their respective countries.
Where the key title is in a Western language, it is recorded in its abbreviated key title according to the "List of Serial Title Word Abbreviations" developed jointly by the ISSN International Centre and ISO.

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Construction of ISSN

The ISSN assigned to a serial publication is a simple eight-digit identification number consisting of a seven-digit number plus a check digit. The eight digits are divided into two groups of four digits each, linked with a hyphen and suffixed with the capital letters "ISSN" as the following example.

ISSN 0914-6601

Unlike the ISBN (International Standard Book Number), ISSNs are simple identification numbers without any meanings attached. The eighth (last) digit number serves to prevent typographical errors and in some cases is replaced by the capital letter "X". The ISSN was officially established in ISO 3297, and its Japanese counterpart JIS X 0306-1988 was formally established in Japan on February 1,1988.

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Advantages of ISSN

The foremost advantage of ISSN is that any serial publication with an ISSN can be easily identified irrespective of its publishing country, publisher, language, and genre. The ISSN is used to increase the efficiency of receiving, photocopying, lending, indexing serials at libraries and performing the order placement, receiving and other business operations of publishers and book stores with a faster speed and greater accuracy. Further, when registered at the ISSN International Centre, Japanese serial publications will have greater opportunities for overseas circulation.

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Registration and Public Relations

The ISSN International Centre puts registered serials into an online database and publishes the data in the ISSN Portal. Using it, anyone has access to ISSN information on the key titles, abbreviated key titles, place of publication, publishers, variant titles, and bibliographical notes of serials. As of the end of 2017, 2,005,090 serials were registered at the International Centre.

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Indications of ISSN(in case of "printed publications")

To maintain and further develop the ISSN Network, the assigned ISSN should be printed on each issue of the serial publication. The ISSN printing position is, in principle, at the top right-hand corner of the front cover. If this is difficult for design or other reasons, the ISSN may be printed in another prominent position, for example, in another area of the front cover, on the backcover, title page, colophon.
Note: In case of electronic serials, such as CD-ROMs, online journals, the position of indications differs from above. For details, please contact to the Japanese Centre.

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Cooperation between Japanese National Centre for ISSN and Publishers

The National Diet Library took over becoming a Japanese National Centre for ISDS ("ISDS" is the former name of the ISSN Network) in 1973, and has actively served as the Japanese National Centre for ISDS since January 1976. And the name changed into Japanese National Centre for ISSN in 2002.
In the Japanese centre, the number is registered by the request of publishers. In addition, when a publication with a changed key title is found, the Centre also advises the publisher to acquire an ISSN. If a publisher fails to print the ISSN already assigned, the NDL prompts the print of the ISSN.
The Japanese National Centre for ISSN cannot achieve its full mission of promoting the ISSN Network without the cooperation of publishers. It is essential that publishers actually print the assigned ISSN on their serial publications and that, whenever planning to start a new publication or to change the title, the publishers notify the Japanese National Centre in advance. For this purpose, the NDL and publishers need to maintain close communication, and the NDL seeks all-out cooperation from government agencies, universities, academic societies, other libraries.

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ISSN Registration Procedures

The Japanese National Centre for ISSN is currently registering the following types of publications:

  • *Serial publications which are published in Japan. Printed publications, CD-ROMs, magnetic disc and other packaged electronic publications, and microfilms and publications of other mediums.
  • *Network electronic publications (online publications, etc.)
    1. published in separate volumes and indicate their back numbers online and their published places inside Japan
    2. Databases which satisfy three conditions as follows:
      • (1)currently published on a continuous basis
      • (2)indicate the frequency
      • (3)the latest date of updating
  • *Please note that the same publications in different mediums (for example, a printed journal and an online journal) must be assigned with different ISSNs.

After reading the description above, fill in the ISSN application form (web) to apply for ISSN if your publication is appropriate for ISSN:

  • *You can also send us the ISSN application form by e-mail, by fax or by postal mail:

As application procedures for registration differ from one type of serial publication to another, the NDL welcomes inquiries on application and any other matters about ISSN.

Contact Us

Japanese National Centre for ISSN
Serials and Non-book Materials Division, Acquisitions and Bibliography
Department, National Diet Library
Fax: +81-3-3581-1330
E-mail: issnjpnat n d l dot g o dot j p

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