Give south Indian authors their true names


Your recent News Feature 'Identity crisis' (Nature 451, 766–767; 2008) reveals that many Chinese, Japanese and Korean researchers do not receive due credit for their work, owing to inconsistent abbreviation practices and journal requirements regarding names. Many other Asian scientists face similar problems.

We are three female postgraduate students of south Indian ancestry. Indians from the south traditionally do not have surnames. It is only when forced to comply with Western naming standards that they use their father's given name as a substitute. As a consequence, journal rules require them to publish research under the fathers' given names (with which we — Nalini, Jeevananthinee and Sujatha — also sign this Correspondence letter). Obviously, as young south Indian scientists making a contribution to science, we would prefer to be identified with our first names and not by our fathers' given names.

India produces more than 100,000 postdoctoral scientists every year (see Nature India at We believe that now is the time to introduce a consistent publication system that accommodates Indian names. The universal author-identification that uses contributor IDs, as discussed in your News Feature, is a good start. Such a system could be designed along the lines of the digital object identifier (doi) system used for journal articles. That could be followed by changes to reference rulings in journals to allow for citation of papers with single-name authors who are linked to a contributor ID.

We hope that all of science will take note of the extent of the Asian identity crisis in publishing and will work towards creating a universal system of authorship.

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Puniamoorthy, N., Jeevanandam, J. & Narayanan Kutty, S. Give south Indian authors their true names. Nature 452, 530 (2008).

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