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Editorial Snapshot: Ensuring authors get credit even if they change names

- G.A., Senior Editor

To ensure that authors receive the credit they deserve for their contributions to the published literature in their respective fields, so-called “attribution identifiers” such as ORCiD and the “ResearcherID” from the Web of Science Group have been developed. These identifiers assign authors dedicated numbers that can be linked to publications to prevent confusion between researchers with similar or identical names. However, authors who change their given names still face challenges when trying to ensure that their correct names are listed in their publications.

Historically, authors who changed their names had to submit formal requests for changes with each publisher that had published their work. For researchers with multiple publications, this could be a long and stressful process. However, publishers such as The Royal Society of Chemistry have begun to acknowledge the many situations that can require authors to change their names and take steps to facilitate these kinds of changes. At the end of 2020, The Royal Society of Chemistry updated its editorial policies to explain how requests for changes to names, biography photos, pronouns, and other identifiers can be made by authors.

Recently, in the United States, an agreement was reached between 17 national research labs and 17 major publishers. According to this agreement, the research labs that employ researchers who require name changes will submit the necessary requests to the participating publishers directly on behalf of the researchers. Establishing this agreement should help to facilitate the timely correction of published material and significantly reduce the burden on the researchers themselves.

The rapid adoption of attribution identifiers like ORCiD suggests that publishers will continue to improve their handling of requests for name changes to ensure that authors are always able to receive the credit they have earned.

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