National Laboratories Take Inclusive Step for Researchers To Claim Work From All Stages of Their Careers

Dec. 13, 2021

Illustration of four diverse people, with one holding a blank name tag
Image by Jenny Nuss, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) joins the 16 other U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories and many publishers, journals, and other organizations in scientific publishing in a partnership to support name-change requests from researchers on past published papers.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is coordinating the effort so that researchers of all genders, and transgender researchers specifically, can rightfully claim ownership of past work. Through this process, researchers can be known in their respective fields primarily through their merits as published authors. The national laboratories will facilitate requests for name changes from their researchers for any reason, including religious, marital, or other purposes.

Before this partnership, individual researchers would request name changes from each publisher of their past papers. Due to the number of name-change requests, many publishers have been independently updating their own policies. Now, this partnership streamlines the previously ad hoc processes and provides an official validation alternative by enabling researchers to ask their respective institutions to pursue name changes on their behalf directly with the publishers and journals.

The collaboration is supporting colleagues who wish to more easily claim work from all stages of their careers, an issue that is often taken for granted. This initiative seeks to ease the administrative and emotional difficulties some transgender researchers have experienced when requesting name changes associated with past academic work.

“This effort is a culmination of all the national laboratories as they work to create an equitable and inclusive environment for our researchers and staff,” said Bill Kindred, chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion officer at NREL. “Internally, our full-spectrum network embraced this initiative and is supportive of the changes. Anne Greenaway also really engaged the Full-Spectrum ERG and provided advice and guidance to the lab-complex team. As my friend Lady Idos, chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion officer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory says, ‘This change eliminates an enormous burden on researchers, emotionally and administratively, to correct the record.’”

The agreement acts as a step toward a more inclusive culture in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field and, especially, STEM publishing. The commitment between the national laboratories, major scientific publishers, journals, and other organizations is not a result of federal policy changes, but a movement they wished to make in alignment with their respective diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Several researchers have updated their names on previous publications, which has allowed them to maintain prominence in their areas of research and receive full credit for their academic impacts. The reach of the new agreement not only significantly affects individuals but also sets a precedent moving forward for an inclusive STEM future.

Learn more about diversity, equity, and inclusion at NREL.