I am an graduate student. I want to take on an academic name for publishing papers in journals and would likewise be known by that name in the academic circuit. My surname is bit embarrassing and I fear that it can divert people's attention from my work. Therefore, is it possible that I keep my first name and use initials of my last name while publishing papers. I can mention my full name in websites, Google scholar and university profile. I had considered a legal name change but it is bit too much of a hassle from where I come from. Moreover, I am aware that a name change after getting married to husband's surname will not lead to uniformity in papers and can be hassle for people searching my work or for citation purposes. What can be done in this case? Can I take initials of my surname?

  • 2
    You can take a pen name, and nobody but your employer (for taxes, social security, etc.) needs to know about the original. Also many people keep publishing under their maiden name after they marry. Nobody asks for a passport when you submit papers.
    – Karl
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 9:48
  • Where are you studying/living? In the UK, while it's common for a woman to take her husband's surname after marriage, it's certainly not a legal requirement and many don't do it. Or, if you do change your name, you can continue to publish under your maiden name for consistency's sake. Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 9:51
  • This question has been answered here multiple times. You can choose any name you like for publishing purposes, but keep it consistent. Your "academic name" need have no relationship to your "legal name".
    – Buffy
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 13:54
  • 1
    Although it's easy to replace one's first and middle names with initials, I suspect that some computer systems will not be able to handle a surname consisting of just an initial. I'd suggest inventing a new surname for yourself rather than reducing your present surname to an initial. Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 16:17
  • I suggest Alexandra Coruscant. It has a nice ring to it, and people will wonder whether it's really your name, so they will remember you.
    – TonyK
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 22:45

1 Answer 1


The common way to publish is "Surname, N." (not the unique). So it will be read. How ever you should evaluate all the facts before, and consider why you think it's embarrassing.

There's no trouble about publishing with a nickname, in fact, many people has done it, but there's no guarantee that it won't bring you other problems:

  • accessing conferences. Many conferences wil ask for your passport to receive your access ID.
  • having to answer for two surnames
  • having accounts with different surnames
  • The most difficult: demonstrate that you are your nickname. There's no legal entity which does that.

However, at the Q3, Q2, Q1 conferences are not a high school. You'll find people from around the world, with high education, whose companies, universities or themselves have payed from $500-$5000 and will be looking for the contents of your article, not your Surname.

Decades ago, Chinese authors used nicknames and they had this kind of problems. They changed Peng/Yang/Ming/Wung, for Atkinson/Eastwood/Anderson/Banks. But, fortunately, nowadays you can find thousands of articles with asian surnames and shared without shame. The Academic community will look at your contents first. If it has quality contents, then look at the authors to remember it.

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