Missing Numbers

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Posts: 137
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 7:12 am

Missing Numbers

Postby janer » Fri Apr 27, 2012 4:49 am


Please can you tell me why the system that automatically assigns numbers to uploaded papers seems to be missing out numbers more and more. In our journal, I have sort of noticed it has happened for ages, and put it down to maybe aborted attempts to upload by authors, but when I began looking into it recently, this is happening much more frequently in recent months. For example, the paper uploaded yesterday was 203, and the previous paper to that was 201 and before that it was 199, 198, 197 and then 194, missing two numbers out, and so on. I can't discern any pattern. As far as I know, every paper uploaded is always visible to Editors, but what could be causing these gaps in the numbers? It means that any statistical analysis has become meaningless also!

Many thanks,


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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 6:20 am

Re: Missing Numbers

Postby JasonNugent » Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:20 am

Hi Janer,

The ids assigned to submissions are based on an auto-incremented column in the articles table in the database. I am not sure why you are seeing an increase in the manner you've described, but using those ids for statistical purposes is probably not a good idea. They serve no purpose than to otherwise uniquely identify a submission entry (whether it was accepted or not).

Out of curiosity, what sort of statistical analysis were you doing that was using those id values?


Posts: 137
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 7:12 am

Re: Missing Numbers

Postby janer » Tue May 08, 2012 8:18 am

Hi Jason,

It would have been useful to have had sequentially-numbered papers as that would have made aspects of the analysis easier for me. My Editors want to know things like the nationality spread of authors, and the number of papers uploaded in particular time intervals. I have to keep a completely separate EXCEL spreadsheet to even know how many 'proper' uploads there have been, as the ids don't tell me!

If anybody else can explain why there are more and more numbers missing from the numbering system I would be very interested to know the answer.



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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 12:56 pm

Re: Missing Numbers

Postby asmecher » Tue May 08, 2012 8:34 am

Hi janer,

Every time an author starts a paper, it gets the next number in the sequence. If the author never completes the submission, or completes it and then deletes it, you may never see it as an editor. If it's a multiple journal installation, the number may go to any of the journals.

It's not intended to be a meaningful number -- just a unique identifier. If you're doing some analysis, I think either a new custom report (written in PHP as a report plugin) or an external database tool (phpMyAdmin is common, but requires some knowledge of SQL) are your best bets. Excel can do some statistical work but I think SQL would be a lot more useful in this case. If you can get an SQL query written to generate the data you're looking for, then re-running it can be done without expert help using a tool like phpMyAdmin.

Alec Smecher
Public Knowledge Project Team

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