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I am an undergraduate at a US university. I have a first author publication that I worked really hard for: both data collection and creation and the actual paper itself.

However, as I am an immigrant, I changed my legal first and last name to a more American name, and the journal said they cannot make changes to the abstract after the submission deadline (which was in 2021).

I feel kind of defeated right now because I was banking on this publication assisting me in landing research positions via cold email and feel like those hours put into the lab won't be recognized.

I also don't understand why this journal won't let me change my legal name (the impact factor is around 7 so it's a decent journal), as journals like Nature and Science have allowed for author name changes as a way to be inclusive. Should I try calling instead of emailing?

Also, how can I list this on my resume? I feel like it would be so weird to not even have my new name on the citation, especially since I'm first author, and having to explain a relic name to my future PI. Even if I don't get asked directly, I feel like there will be some stigma. I might be overthinking, but as I am very young, this was my pride as I worked so hard for this and was banking on landing future opportunities with this under my belt.

UPDATE My legal name change on my online abstract was approved! Any changes to the abstract submission after the deadline was against their policy, but they made an exception for me, so I'm very happy! I feel like the most important takeaway for people who are in my situation (if you ever view this question) is to ask nicely yet maintain professionalism so that they take you seriously. Best of luck to anyone else who is in my position!

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On the resume list the paper as published, with your original name. But note your name change somewhere also there. It won't really be a big problem for your career since it is only one item and it is so early in that career. You are overthinking it.

But long term, you should think about publishing (all future papers) under a single name that need not be your legal name or your birth name. This is especially important for those from cultures where name change at marriage is typical. Publishing under a single name makes name searches easier for people. Choose a "professional name" that need not match your legal, birth, or common-use name.

Hopefully, however, you will eventually have published enough that missing one abstract in a name search won't really matter.

Things like this are not an issue in grad school applications as they are common enough to be easily understood and accepted. But also note that cold email is a poor way to try to make an impression for grad school admissions. Such things are easily ignored, especially by those busy people you most want to reach.

You won't be able to get the journal to change its rules. Among other things, they don't like it for old citations to become obsolete (or weird) because they change their online entries. It is much worse for print journals, of course.

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Just to add a couple of of points to Buffy's answer:

  • you can in principle use whatever pen-name you like but (as you're aware) at some point potential employers will want to verify your publications list, and using different names will make this awkward at best. You would need not just to use ORCiD (or similar identifier) but also to list your various names on your public ORCiD profile. This has obvious direct implications for your privacy, on top of the disconcerting general "Big Brother" aspect of such identifiers. Ensuring that the publisher has embedded your ORCiD in the paper's Version-Of-Record a priori would help a bit.

  • one long-standing option that can help in some cases is to publish using only initials, rather than giving forenames. So, if you've changed name from "Bob" to "Worried", you can still publish as "B.W. Scientist", and this will even allow for some future changes such as from "Worried" to "Brilliant". (Obviously, this doesn't help with surname changes.)

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