What’s in a name

In courses on citation analysis for research evaluation I always give stern warning to researchers not to change their names. That is most important nowadays since it has become fashion to publish on a first name basis. First names differ occasionally from given names and can lead therefore to confusion when evaluators perform a citation analysis for whatever purpose. The situation is always a trifle more  complicated  for female researchers.  Young aspiring scientist start publishing  with their own name. Later on in their career some of them opt to publish under their husband’s name. Not to mention what happens after a divorce.

Since citation analysis is seemingly easy to perform with more and more databases offering simple citation lookup options, researchers should be aware of the consequences of their, often sloppy or at least in consequent, habits of referring to their own names in scholarly articles.

In today’s newspaper (NRC 20080305) there was a very interesting article reporting on some research carried out at the University of Tilburg. In this research they experimented with the influence of the change of the woman’s name after marriage on their social career. Three different experiments were performed and all three of them showed unequivocally that changing names after marriage had a negative effect on their social careers.

So far so good. But what amazed me most was that 83% of the female students of Tilburg University (going for their MSc)  taking part in these experiments planned to change their names after marriage.  This  is apparently  about the national average.  Of the male students 81%  expected their future wifes to be to adopt their names.

I was under the impression that years and years of women’s lib would have solved this problem quite soon. How wrong I was.

Hattip: GS