ISSN is short for “International Standard Serial Number.”1 It is a numeric code for identifying serial publications, including journals.2 Each ISSN is associated with a publication’s title.3
By having an ISSN, it is quicker and easier for people and systems to find and identity the journal.4 For more details, see this page.
It costs time to apply for an ISSN. For me, creating an account took 5 to 10 minutes; submitting an application took the same amount of time. It may include a nominal fee, depending on the country. There is not a fee in Australia,5 the United Kingdom,6 or United States.7 I was unable to find fee information for Canada or Belgium. At most, the cost is €50.8
It is easy to get an ISSN for your journal. First, go to the Requesting an ISSN page.9 Under “You are a publishing house or an individual,” choose the journal’s country of publication and click “Submit Your Request.” On the next page, again click “Submit Your Request.”
After that, the steps depend on the country in which the journal is published. That said, there is not much variation due to ISSNs being a standardized tool.
For journals published in the United States, I wrote out the steps. Yet they are so simple that it is better to just “go for it.” If you want to see what is involved though, click the footnotes associated with “Create an ISSN Uplink Account”10 and “Start a New Application.”11
The ISSN Guidelines for Publishers specifies the following (quoted verbatim), which is useful information for startup journals:
It is possible to obtain an ISSN before the publication of the first issue of a print serial or before the release of a serial on CD-ROM if all the available information and an advanced mock-up are provided with the request. …
ISSN shall not be requested more than three (3) months before the release of the first issue;
The ISSN International Centre reserves the right to defer the assignment of an ISSN until it has received a copy of the first issue;
An ISSN assigned ahead of publication will be considered to be “provisional”. This ISSN will not be formally registered in the ISSN International Portal until the ISSN International Centre receives proof of the effective publication of the document. As soon as the publication is released, this proof must be provided to the ISSN International Centre through your Publisher's area.
ISSN are generally assigned to online publications only after the release of the first issue, provided that these issues contain five (5) articles at least.
Once an ISSN is assigned to the journal, display it on its homepage or main menu.12