New policy will allow authors an easy route to change names on previous publications

11 Sep 2020

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2020 — The Publications Division of the American Chemical Society (ACS) is proud to announce a new policy that will allow authors to update the name used on their prior ACS publications. Beginning in October, authors who have changed their name for any reason, including (but not limited to) gender transition, marriage, divorce or religious conversion, will be able to request that articles published under a previously used name are updated to reflect their new name.
In order to protect our authors’ privacy, changes will be made without requiring authors to provide proof or documentation of their name change, and editors and coauthors of prior publications will not be notified of the update. As changing one’s name is a deeply personal decision that an individual might not wish to disclose to a large audience, the update will not be considered a correction to prior publications; therefore, no notice of the name change will be posted on the article. The policy will also ensure all other references to the author’s identity, including pronouns, salutations, captions and other elements of the paper, are updated appropriately.
“We’re pleased to be the first chemistry publisher, and among the first scholarly publishers in any field, to have adopted this policy,” says Sarah Tegen, Ph.D., senior vice president, ACS Publications Division. “Being tied to a previously used name is an obstacle for many researchers, as they may be faced with the decision to omit their publication from their resumé, risk missing out on credit for their scholarly work, or explain to colleagues and potential employers why their name was changed. This issue disproportionately impacts transgender scientists and women, and our new policy will lift a crucial barrier to inclusion and career mobility for our authors.”

This change was developed in response to a call from the community of transgender researchers, and ACS is grateful for this group’s insights, advocacy and assistance in drafting the policy. Irving Rettig, a chemistry Ph.D. candidate at Portland State University and transgender rights in STEM activist, worked closely with ACS to develop this policy and convene other trans and nonbinary scientists to support this change.
“I’m thrilled that ACS has made this change, and it is a tremendous step for transgender scientists,” says Rettig. “As a trans author positively impacted by the changes ACS Publications is enacting, I encourage all publishers and journals to support the academic excellence of trans authors and move toward inclusive name change policies. However, trans authors pursuing the same endeavor at other major publishers continue to encounter barriers to carrying out these policies. I encourage other publishers to follow ACS’ lead in implementing policies that work to eliminate discrimination in the publishing community.”

As with any progressive new policy, ACS anticipates that there may be some nuances or fine details to resolve, and is committed to working with every author who requests a name change. ACS will also continue to adapt this policy to the needs of the community, and as a second phase, is pledging to work toward a procedure to update author names in citations.
“We will make our policy, implementation documentation and lessons learned available publicly to assist any publisher embarking on a similar path. This is a crucial step toward equality that the scientific community can take together,” says James Milne, Ph.D., president, ACS Publications Division.


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