An International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is a unique eight-digit number used to identify a print or electronic periodical publication. Periodicals published in both print and electronic form may have two ISSNs, a print ISSN (p-ISSN) and an electronic ISSN (e-ISSN or eISSN). The ISSN system was first drafted as an ISO international standard in 1971 and published as ISO 3297 in 1975. The ISO subcommittee TC 46/SC 9 is responsible for the standard.
The format of the ISSN is an eight digit number, divided by a hyphen into two four-digit numbers. The last digit, which may be 0–9 or an X, is a check digit. The ISSN of the journal Hearing Research, for example, is 0378-5955, the check digit is 5.
To calculate the check digit, the following algorithm may be used:
- Calculate the sum of the first seven digits of the ISSN multiplied by its position in the number, counting from the right — that is, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2, respectively:
- The modulus 11 of this sum is then calculated: divide the sum by 11 and determine the remainder.
- If there is no remainder the check digit is 0, otherwise the remainder value is subtracted from 11 to give the check digit:
- 5 is the check digit.
- An upper case X in the check digit position indicates a check digit of 10.
To confirm the check digit, calculate the sum of all eight digits of the ISSN multiplied by its position in the number, counting from the right (if the check digit is X, then add 10 to the sum). The modulus 11 of the sum must be 0.
ISSN codes are assigned by a network of ISSN National Centres, usually located at national libraries and coordinated by the ISSN International Centre based in Paris. The International Centre is an intergovernmental organization created in 1974 through an agreement between UNESCO and the French government. The International Centre maintains a database of all ISSNs assigned worldwide, the ISDS Register (International Serials Data System) otherwise known as the ISSN Register. As of 2011[update], the ISSN Register contained records for 1,623,566 items.
Comparison to other identifiers
ISSN and ISBN codes are similar in concept, where ISBNs are assigned to individual books. An ISBN might be assigned for particular issues of a periodical, in addition to the ISSN code for the periodical as a whole. An ISSN, unlike the ISBN code, is an anonymous identifier associated with a periodical title, containing no information as to the publisher or its location. For this reason a new ISSN is assigned to a periodical each time it undergoes a major title change.
Since the ISSN applies to an entire periodical a new identifier, the Serial Item and Contribution Identifier, was built on top of it to allow references to specific volumes, articles, or other identifiable components (like the table of contents).
The ISSN Register is not freely available for interrogation on the web but is available by subscription. There are several routes to the identification and verification of ISSN codes for the general public.
- the print version of a periodical typically will include the ISSN code as part of the publication information
- most periodical websites contain ISSN code information
- derivative lists of publications will often contain ISSN codes; these can be found through on-line searches with the ISSN code itself or periodical title
- WorldCat permits searching their catalog by ISSN by entering "issn:"+ISSN code in the query field. One can also go directly to an ISSN's record by appending it to http://www.worldcat.org/ISSN/, e.g. www.worldcat.org. This does not query the ISSN Register itself but rather shows whether any Worldcat library holds an item with the given ISSN.
Use in URNs
An ISSN can be encoded as a Uniform Resource Name (URN) by prefixing it with "urn:ISSN:". For example Rail could be referred to as "urn:ISSN:1534-0481". URN namespaces are case-sensitive, and the ISSN namespace is all caps. If the checksum digit is "X" then it is always encoded in uppercase in a URN.
- What is an ISSN?, ISSN International Center.
- ISSN and ISO standards, ISSN International Center, 2008.
- "Total number of records in the ISSN register" (PDF). 2012. Retrieved 09 September 2012.
- Using The ISSN (International Serial Standard Number) as URN (Uniform Resource Names) within an ISSN-URN Namespace — RFC 3044
- Dublin Core: ResourceIdentifierGuidelines: 4.5 ISSN
- Search by title to find an ISSN
- Search by ISSN
- List of 63800 ISSN numbers and titles
- ISSN International Centre
- "Cataloging Part" (PDF), ISSN Manual, ISSN International Centre.
- How U.S. publishers can obtain an ISSN, United States: Library of Congress.
- ISSN in Canada, Library and Archives Canada.
- Getting an ISSN in the UK, British Library.
- Getting an ISSN in France (in French), Bibliothèque nationale de France
- Getting an ISSN in Germany (in German), Deutsche Nationalbibliothek