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Institutions Partner on Inclusive Name-Change Process for Published Papers

Scientific publishing organizations and national laboratories partner on transgender-inclusive name-change process

by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
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All 17 US national laboratories and many prominent publishers, journals, and other organizations in scientific publishing announced today the beginning of a partnership to support name change requests from researchers on past published papers. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is coordinating the effort.

This agreement will allow researchers who wish to change their names to more easily claim work from all stages of their careers; it specifically addresses the administrative and emotional difficulties some transgender researchers have experienced when requesting name changes associated with past academic work. 

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"We are supporting our colleagues on an important issue that is often taken for granted—allowing them to take full credit for their academic achievements with their name," said Joerg Heber, research integrity officer, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "It could not happen without our partners at the other national labs and in publishing. We’re grateful to be working in concert on this—it’s never been done before."

Previously, individual researchers shouldered the burden, administratively and emotionally, of initiating name change requests with each publisher of their past papers. This partnership streamlines these previously ad hoc processes and offers an official validation mechanism to all involved by enabling researchers to ask their respective institutions to pursue name changes on their behalf directly with the publishers and journals. Many publishers have been independently updating their own policies to address an increasing number of name change requests. 

"We are very happy to see the National Laboratories being proactive in supporting their researchers with this initiative, which will be well used. Since we updated our own author name change policy in December 2020 we have had requests for name changes on dozens of articles in our journals," said Nicola Nugent, publishing manager quality & ethics, from the Royal Society of Chemistry. "It truly takes a collaborative effort to achieve positive change on inclusion and diversity in scholarly publishing—something we have seen through our work with 42 publishers in our Joint Commitment on Inclusion and Diversity in Publishing."

"arXiv's mission is to open science for everyone, because science can only be enriched by diversity," said Dr. Eleonora Presani, executive director of arXiv, an open-access distribution service of Cornell Tech with more than 2 million scholarly articles across eight different disciplines. "To advance this mission, arXiv's policy empowers authors to be in control of their names and online identities, and we're excited to partner with other organizations to better facilitate name changes with less burden on researchers."

For researchers of all genders, and transgender researchers specifically, the new process ensures they can rightfully claim ownership of prior work without fear of reprisal under their lived name and be known in their respective fields primarily through their merits as published authors. 

"As a trans scientist, having publications under my birth name causes me to have mixed feelings about past work of which I'm otherwise proud," said Amalie Trewartha, research scientist, Toyota Research Institute and, materials science research affiliate, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "I am faced with the dilemma of either hiding certain parts of it, or outing myself. Having my name updated on my previous publications would be enormously meaningful. It would allow me to make a first impression on my peers primarily through my merits as a scientist and it would allow me to unreservedly embrace and be proud of research from all stages of my career."

As several researchers have attested, having their names updated on previous publications allows them to best represent their full suite of accomplishments. The ability to claim the volume of their work over time has significant implications for maintaining prominence in their area of research and for receiving credit for their academic impact. 

"We know authors change their name for a variety of reasons, and this can negatively impact their ownership of their research—an impact that is particularly severe for transgender researchers," said Nugent.

The partnership between the national laboratories, major scientific publishers, journals, and other organizations represents a commitment to creating a more inclusive culture in STEM fields and STEM publishing in particular. The participating national laboratories will facilitate requests for name changes for any reason, including religious, marital, or other purposes, where supported by the policies in place at our publishing partners.

"This partnership shows the power of scientific collaboration—not only to move the world forward with new discoveries, but also to drive inclusivity with impact," said Judy Verses, executive vice president, Wiley Research. "Publishers have a multiplier effect when driving these positive changes, which impact the entire knowledge ecosystem—including the more than 16 million researchers Wiley serves."  

"I'm proud of the support and innovation at the national labs and the enthusiasm on the part of the publishers, at this level of commitment, to improve people's lives," said Lady Idos, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "This change eliminates an enormous burden on researchers, emotionally and administratively, to correct the record. Our partnership on this is a continuation of the efforts that many national labs have initiated to create a more welcoming and inclusive work environment for trans researchers. I encourage others to join us."

The 17 national laboratories across the United States are pursuing this work in alignment with their respective diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, not as a result of any federal policy changes, and welcome new partners as the effort advances.

- This press release was originally published on the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory website