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Scientific publishers, national labs partner on inclusive name-change process for published papers

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is among seventeen U.S. national laboratories and many prominent publishers, journals and other organizations in scientific publishing that announced today the beginning of a partnership to support name change requests from researchers on past published papers.

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.

“Shifting the burden of the name change process provides an opportunity to demonstrate our support and respect for our colleagues while further aligning our practices with our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion,” said ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia.

Previously, individual researchers shouldered the burden, administratively and emotionally, of initiating name change requests with each publisher of their past papers. Many publishers have been independently updating their own policies to address an increasing number of name change requests.

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.

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 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.

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 publishing partners.

The seventeen 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. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is coordinating the effort.

View the full list of participating institutions.

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. The Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit energy.gov/science.