Journal Policy: eLife partners with national laboratories around more inclusive name-change process

A new partnership between publishers and institutions is set to lessen the administrative and emotional burden on researchers who wish to change their names in their published works.

Today we are pleased to announce that eLife is among 13 publisher organisations beginning a partnership with all 17 United States Department of Energy national laboratories to support name-change requests from researchers.

eLife’ name-change policy – which was announced last November – enables any author, editor and reviewer to retroactively change their name in an eLife article for any reason, including, but not limited to, changes in gender identity and expression, marital status or religion. Our new partnership with the national laboratories will allow researchers to ask their respective institutions to pursue name changes on their behalf directly with eLife and other publishers and journals.

This agreement means researchers who change their names can more effortlessly claim work from all stages of their careers, and specifically addresses the difficulties some transgender researchers have experienced when requesting name changes associated with past academic work.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California is coordinating the effort. Lady Idos, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer at Berkeley Lab, says: “I'm proud of the support and innovation at the national labs and the enthusiasm on the part of the publishers, at this level of commitment, to improve people's lives. This change eliminates an enormous burden on researchers, emotionally and administratively, to correct the record.”

Stuart King, Research Culture Manager at eLife, says: “Our original workflow for name changes was designed to be as unobtrusive as possible, yet we recognise it can be time-consuming and emotionally draining for researchers to initiate independent requests with us and other publishers. I’m pleased that, through this partnership, we are now taking a step towards streamlining that process, meaning researchers can spend more of their time on the research that they are trained to do and less time pursuing name-change requests.”

The announcement of this partnership also coincides with updates that we have made in response to the latest community recommendations around publisher name-change policies. Our original policy workflow was inspired by a similar one developed in collaboration with Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Science and Health (EDIS) and in consultation with trans researchers. eLife’s policy has now been revised in response to the new recommendations from EDIS, and additional guidance from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) to aim to ensure our policy truly centres the needs of researchers who would wish to use it.

The latest changes to eLife’s policy relate specifically to clarifying the accessibility of the policy, and to improving the invisibility, expediency and simplicity of name-change requests.

First, we’ve re-iterated within the policy itself that researchers are not required to provide any ‘official’ documents or legal evidence of a name change to use the policy. Through a separate author identification policy, we’ve also clarified how we verify the identity of any one contacting us about eLife papers, which is a standard process for corrections, retractions and name-change requests. In most cases, we can reliably identify researchers through their email addresses and ORCID iDs. If neither of those options is available, however, we’ve suggested other ways how eLife staff may work with a researcher to enable them to verify their identity on their own terms and as simply and unobtrusively as possible.

Secondly, stages in the previous workflow related to adding annotations to alert readers or contacting corresponding authors about name changes have been made optional. Name changes will instead be invisible by default; though authors can still choose greater transparency if that is appropriate for them and their needs.

Finally, we have reworded a section of the policy to reflect that – as evidenced by our new partnership with the national laboratories – we are open to working directly with institutions and other third parties who might want to pursue name-change requests on the behalf of researchers.

How to use the policy:

A list of the institutions that are part of the partnership can be found here. Researchers at those institutions who wish to make use of the name-change service enabled by this partnership should contact their respective institution directly.

Further details of eLife's policy and instructions on how individual researchers can make use of it can be found in our Journal Policies section, under “Name-change policy”.


We welcome comments or questions from researchers as well as institutions and other publishers. Please contact Stuart King, Research Culture Manager, at Comments can also be shared publicly on this announcement; while anonymous feedback may be shared via this form.


For the latest updates on editorial policy and other news from eLife, sign up to receive our bi-monthly newsletter. You can also follow @eLife on Twitter.