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I worked in a research laboratory last summer and some of my work was used in a paper that was published this year at a conference. This is my first paper and I am listed as a co-author, however, my last name was spelled wrong. I have a capital “i” in the middle of my last name that was mistaken for a lowercase “L”.

Firstly, what steps should I take to correct this? Is it best to contact my supervisor from the lab and ask them to correct it or should I attempt to do so myself?

Secondly, in the future should I change my last name spelling to use a lowercase "i" in the middle to avoid this occurring again? I am an undergraduate student, but I am interested in pursuing a career in research.

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    Related (possible duplicate?): Name misspelled in first publication – ff524 Oct 14 '14 at 21:46
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    "to avoid this occurring again?" You are of course supposed to read all papers that you coauthor! Just make sure that your own name is spelled correctly. Both in the version that you submit for publication, and in the page proofs that you receive from the publisher. – Jukka Suomela Oct 15 '14 at 2:47
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For fixing, I think the advice in the linked question is the way to go: contact the publisher and ask them to correct it. This is what errata are for, and it's perfectly normal.

I think the harder question is what to do about the future.

  • On the one hand, the non-distinguishability of I and l are just going to keep causing problems (as can be seen from this very sentence!) and you rarely have control of fonts.
  • On the other hand, it's your personal identity at stake. Do you really want to change your name for the sake of typography?

This is a problem that I see faced by a large number of researchers who don't have names that perfectly transliterate into English. One of my French colleagues, for example, is very insistent on getting the accents correct on his name, while others just ignore it and let things fall to the lowest (anglicized) denominator.

You're going to need to make a decision based on your personal relationship with your identity. If it's important to you, stick to your proper name and just know that you're going to need to be proactive in checking and correcting in every paper you deal with. Fortunately, there's usually a proof stage for just this type of issue. If you'd rather not bother, then by all means embrace the simple lower-case solution. One way or another, though, you should settle on a decision by somewhere in the middle of graduate school. Don't worry too much about some confusion in the early papers: if you make a career of research, the early papers will fade behind your later work; if you don't, it won't matter.

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    Don't worry too much about some confusion in the early papers: if you make a career of research, the early papers will fade behind your later work. that's not necessarily true at all. My first two papers are still among my most cited. What you do on your first papers does matter. – aeismail Oct 14 '14 at 23:01
  • But corrections and errata are always still an option. My main point is that it's a decision that needs to be thought about seriously, but that it's not the end of the world if you change your mind before you establish a long record. – jakebeal Oct 14 '14 at 23:57
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    @jakebeal thank you, this advice is exactly what I was looking for. I will definitely be more attentive to future proof readings, and I will also be taking some time to reflect on how I wish my name to be presented. – vespera Oct 16 '14 at 1:42
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I have had this with one of my recent publications, my surname was spelled with a superfluous 'x' - which was beyond odd.

What I did was to immediately contact the editor and alerted them to this error. I gave a precise account of the error (full bibliographic reference).

The editor's response and speed of response indicated the importance of having the name spelled correctly for correct attribution and correct search indexing.

As many journals are online, this change can be completed on the parent site fairly quickly, indexing in other sources and searches can take a little while long - but in my experience, the correction does take affect in due course.

In future, there are a couple of ways around this - and one I learned to do is to pay particular attention to any pre-publication 'proofs' they send and ask you to review before publication. Make sure you get to see any pre-publication proof and check for the spelling of your name.

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