I am Sulthan from India. In India, we use the first letter of our father's first name as our initial. So in my school records my name is "A.Sulthan". On official documents, such as PAN, licence, voter ID, and Aadhar Card, I use my name alone as "Sulthan" and my father's name is written as "Ayyup Kan". For my passport, my father's name is used as my last name. So my name is written as "Sulthan Ayyup Kan".

Now I am a researcher and author. I write papers with the name "A.Sulthan" when submitting it for publication and peer review. I am confused about how I should write my first name and last name. For example, for my last name, should I use the initial "A." or ".A"? Also, I would appreciate some suggestions on using names in publication.

  • This isn't on-topic on ELU. Apart from how the state wants to record your name (on passport, driving licence etc), how you write your name is entirely down to you. Because it deals with papers, it does appear to be on-topic on Academia.SE, where there are already questions dealing with mononyms and unusual patronymic forms. This question may be a duplicate. Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 9:13

1 Answer 1


Ultimately, consistency between papers is more important than whether it matches any of your other documents. Just pick a way you like to write it and make sure you always keep it the same in future papers.

Points to keep in mind for picking your "researcher name":

  • For better or for worse, anglo-saxon norms are dominant in English research publications. The closer your name looks to "Firstname [I.] Lastname", the less confusion (and hence people citing differently/wrongly) will happen. ".A", in particular, is very unusual and will likely be mistaken for a typo and "corrected" into "A." frequently.
  • A unique name makes your papers more easy to find. If there are already 5 people publishing under the name "Sulthan Kan", maybe pick "Sulthan Ayyup Kan" instead.
  • 2
    Indeed, and yes "for better of for worse", if you choose anything different than anglo-saxon shaped names or initials, it will be changed by editors and, more importantly, your peers when they cite you. I use a lot of Latin American sources who have academic names that are structured like: "Jorge C. Fernandez M." so "First name, Middle initial, Father's surname, Initial of mother's surname. This causes constant back and forth with publishers and my students always get them wrong. Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 16:37
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    This is not to say you should conform to English language name domination...far from it. Rather weigh your priorities. If you don't really care and just want people to be able to peg your research to you, Go with a unique but "English name shaped" version of your options. If you do care, take a stand and demand your preferred name! Just do so knowingly. Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 16:39
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    @GrotesqueSI Or worse, by your citation tool (for example, BibTeX and similar tools expect a certain format for names that is based mainly on Western naming style).
    – JAB
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 2:36

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