Q: How is an author's name change reflected in his or her publications?

Detailed Question -

Recently, I have changed my Chinese name to an English name. This involves changing of both the first and last names. I am currently working on a research paper. Can I use my English name in the author list? I have previous publications listed under my Chinese name. Can I change my name in my previous publications as well? I am worried that if I start using my English name, I will not get credit for my previous publications.

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1 Answer to this question

It is not uncommon for researchers to change their names in the course of their research. It is perfectly acceptable to use your English name in your current paper with a footnote that mentions “earlier known as XXX.” This ensures that people know that the previous publications listed with your Chinese name were authored by you. That way, the problem of not getting credit for your previous work will be taken care of. 

I’m not sure if you can change the name in your previous publications. Although there is nothing unethical about requesting to change one's name, the journal editor might not always feel that it is necessary. The journal editor usually takes a call on such matters. If the author has strong reasons for requesting a name change, such as marriage or divorce, the editor generally agrees, and might make the change through an erratum or corrigendum. You can write to the journal editors requesting a name change in your previous publications, explaining the reason for your request and providing identification proof. If they feel your reason is strong enough, they might agree.

Additionally, you should start using ORCID as you submit new publications to avoid such complications in the future. ORCID registry is a free resource for researchers and scholars that provides you with a unique identifier. So even if your name changes, your ORCID identifier will remain the same.