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What's In A Name?

In the November 11, 1991, issue of The Scientist [page 13], you published an opinion piece by Ken Croswell entitled "Dealing With Problems On A First-Name Basis." I would like to respond to the opinions he expressed about the use of initials rather than first names on scientific publications. Croswell wonders if authors who use their initials rather than their first names on publications are "reclusive" or are attempting to "appear more scientific," and then notes that in such cases he

Le Mcneil

In the November 11, 1991, issue of The Scientist [page 13], you published an opinion piece by Ken Croswell entitled "Dealing With Problems On A First-Name Basis." I would like to respond to the opinions he expressed about the use of initials rather than first names on scientific publications.

Croswell wonders if authors who use their initials rather than their first names on publications are "reclusive" or are attempting to "appear more scientific," and then notes that in such cases he cannot tell if the scientist is male or female. For many of us who use our initials rather than our names, this is precisely the point. Women in the sciences, particularly the physical sciences, are all too accustomed to attracting notice first for our gender and only then for the quality of our science. Even if one is charitable enough to assume that the referee or reader of the...

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