When a person is starting their academic career and submitting their first paper, they need to give some consideration to what their official academic name should be. Consistency across publications is an important principle. A common consideration is whether to include a middle initial in academic publications. Thus, I was interested in what general advice you would give to a PhD student or early career researcher deciding whether to include their middle initial in their author name on publications.
A few possible principles:
- Always include a middle initial because it reduces the chance that your name will be the same as another academic (including cases where only initials are shown in references), or because it looks more distinguished.
- Only include a middle initial if your name is common, because there is a simplicity in just having a first and last name that is desirable where possible.
So, in summary:
- What general advice would you give to PhD students and early career researchers about whether to include a middle initial in their publication author name?
- Would you give different advice depending on the name (e.g., John K. Smith compared to Ambrosia K. Hooperdinkel)?
Note that this is different to some related questions about (a) whether you can add a middle initial to previous publications (b) the importance of name consistency, (c) how to cite papers with inconsistent initials.