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Implementing name changes for published transgender authors

At PLOS we are committed to addressing the needs of all research communities to improve diversity, equity and inclusion. One of the concerns for some of our transgender and non-binary authors is around changes to their names and how these are reflected in the academic record. In particular, the names assigned to transgender or non-binary persons at birth can represent a stigma, and these names are sometimes referred to as deadnames. 

Although authors can change their name on their ORCiD profiles themselves, changes to their published academic record have been difficult to implement since, traditionally, changes are limited to correcting author or publisher errors. We believe there is no reason for this to be a barrier. Publishing an academic study is an achievement for researchers to be proud of, and it is important that the name on the paper reflects who the authors are. Therefore, across all PLOS journals we will now honor requests from transgender and non-binary authors of published papers to update their names. 

The relevant papers will be “republished”, meaning that they will be fully replaced online, and that their indexing metadata (which affects how the author list appears in PubMed, Web of Science, Google Scholar, etc.) should subsequently be updated accordingly. This replaces the author name fully, yet ensures that citation information such as the DOI for the paper remains the same. All previous citations to the paper remain valid. To maintain the author’s privacy, no notice of the name change will be attached to the replaced paper. 

We strive to support our authors and address issues around equality and inclusion, and welcome any enquiries from transgender authors interested in updating names on their past publications. There is no requirement for authors to do so, this is entirely at their discretion. To initiate this process, simply email us at the relevant journal office. What matters to us is the person who authored the paper, and we want to ensure that the published academic record reflects their correct identity.

Discussion
  1. Is there a provision in the search engine services for something like:
    For “newname” see also “oldname” or vice versa? Or an auto feed forward if one is searched to seamlessly send the searcher to the other? If not, won’t someone who knows only the one name potentially miss some of the work? I strongly support the name change idea and want it to work well.

    1. Dr. Alschuler,

      Thanks for your comment. If you are talking about our own search interface on our web site then it’s very likely that it will pick up on the most up-to-date version. We decided against public notices of the name changes to protect the privacy of our authors. One of the easiest and best ways to ensure your complete publication record is attributed to you is to get an ORCID ID. This would help trangender people who seek a name change the same way that it does for name changes after marriage.

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