I'm in the process of applying to graduate school.

Previous to this, I published an article under the name "Usama B. Ayasrah". At the moment, I'm working on my second article. My MSc supervisor told me to use my legal name instead of my preferred name.

The problem here is that my full name is "Osama Bassam Mohammad Qasim Omar Ayasrah" and my legal name is "Osama Bassam Mohammad Omar". As it is the name of my extended family, I prefer to use "Ayasrah". This is a matter of personal preference.

I know I wasn't consistent, but I want to fix this right now. Should I use my legal name with a twist, like "Osama Omar (Ayasrah)"? What will I say if someone asks me about my first article?

The case is further complicated by the fact that my email address is (usama.qasim@..) and I refer to it in the last publication.

I'm trying to finish the in-press process for my publication as soon as I can.

I'd appreciate any suggestions that relate the previous article to the current one - taking into account how I feel about the name of my family.


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    Is there any reason why you can't just tell your MSc supervisor that "Usama B. Ayasrah" is your professional name, and that you intend to keep it that way?
    – Arno
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 0:44
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    I told him that figuratively, but he said, how can you prove that this is your name when it's not your legal name? I was killed this way by him. Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 1:13
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    Unfortunately this is a question in which the lack of diversity on this SE site may prevent you from getting good answers. I am afraid that we have very few regular users here that are familiar with the conventions for middle-eastern names in academia. Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 11:23
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    "How can you prove that this is your name when it's not your legal name?" Start using ORCID. It is quite helpful when dealing with multiple names. Many journals already allow you to provide your ORCID and connect your publications with it automatically.
    – user9482
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 8:32

4 Answers 4


There is no need to use your legal name for publication. You can use pretty much any name you like as long as you don't impersonate someone else. It isn't good to fight with your advisor, of course, but you want a long term "name" that will make it easy for people to find your work consistently.

The name you use here and in your first publication is fine. But if you want to use another, make it happen soon so that there is a minimum of confusion. You can put a note on a personal website if there are early publications under a different name, but some confusion is likely no matter what you do.

There have been scholars who have published under a name with no relation at all to their personal or legal name.

Don't be concerned about the email you use. It isn't the same as your "Professional Name".

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    I can't believe it. My stress is conveyed in your words. Thanks. I don't have anything to discuss with my supervisor, it's just advice. Nevertheless, I need to prove that this research was published by (Osama Omar), also known as (Usama B. Ayasrah) in research. My university will reward me for publishing my article, which is derived from my thesis, if I show this. I don't know how to prove this. Usama B. Ayasrah is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Researchgate, Googlescholar, ORCID, etc. Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 1:09
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    You can register your preferred name with ORCID and, IIRC, connect it to you personally. You can also inform any editor of your real identity when you submit papers, establishing suitable evidence if anyone should question you, which is unlikely.
    – Buffy
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 1:23
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    @UsamaB.Ayasrah Orcid has a very detailed "name" section with several fields meant exactly to clarify information on multiple names and variations. Have you edited your page so that all your different name variations appear on it? Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 11:17
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    that will make it easy for people to find your work consistently This. Besides the problem of long names, do not use any diacritics, it is not worth the trouble. For one, you never know if they will fit into the system, and then you do not know if they can be processed on the output. Just stick to plain ASCII (yes I know that in many languages a diacritic is a completely unrelated letter, everyone is free to choose but one the choice is made there is no way back)
    – WoJ
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 12:01
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    @WoJ Relevant: kalzumeus.com/2010/06/17/…. People can get very upset about not having their names properly handled, but this very much a reality we still live in, and will likely be living in for foreseeable future. Sticking to ASCII is simply the safest. One can always decide it is worth it to ensure that their proper name can be used in every system, but uhhhhh... This would take a lot of fighting and a nontrivial amount of service denials.
    – Lodinn
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 17:43

There are famous examples of people getting spectacular results attributed to their pen name: see, for example, that of William Sealy Gosset. In academia, the default level of trust is, perhaps paradoxically, fairly high, and unless there are serious reasons to doubt one has authored an article, it would not be put under extreme scrutiny.

Most certainly, I do not wander around conferences demanding people present me their IDs to verify that their badges are not deceitful (and conference organizers usually comply with requests about the names/affiliations on the badges, within reason!). This comes from the understanding that we all work towards a shared goal of advancing human knowledge. Providing a fake name when publishing your own result does not benefit one much, and more impactful fraud is severely punished, usually being career-ending.

Also, from your comments - you might need to explain why the name under which you are filing the documents is different from the name on the articles when you apply for funding, but this does not seem impossible in your case. It depends on the agencies you are dealing with. However, I do not see them outright denying your claims to those papers, but it can get annoying very quickly. What universities and funding agencies care about the most is a proper listing of affiliations and funding details.

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    And then there was Nicolas Barbouki... Not just a pen name.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 10:05
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    At a conference indeed nobody will care, but the immigration officials on the way there might, in particular if they decide to have a bad day. However that should be easily circumvented by asking the organizers for an invitation letter which includes the pen name as well as the one in the passport if both are not easily recognizable as the same.
    – mlk
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 13:36

In addition to all the other remarks that have been made about the use of one name, or another, it is worth noting that many of the citation databases (for example Scopus) allow one to link more than one name to the same identity.

If, for example you have published as Aunt Sally, Sally Anne Worldwanderer and Anne Worldwanderer, Scopus will allow you to link these names together so that a person who searches for you under one name will also be directed to the articles that you have published under a different name ... and the calculation of h-index will also reflect the totality of your publications.


These days people get rated based on scores that have been compiled by bots. These bots struggle to put together all the credit that you are due if your name appears in various forms and spellings.

With ORCID or similar unique identifier this problem should be alleviated and in time dissipate. So making sure you are recognisable to the bots as one and the same person should be your priority.

In the mean time, it remains important that your name appears in exactly the same form on all your publications.

So Usama B. Ayasrah it is, going forward!

If your MSc supervisor has a problem with this, I don't know what that might be. I did MSc supervision at a top uni for decades and I can't really imagine that I would have denied a student the use of their preferred name.

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