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Improving academic visibility: Check your name

It may sound strange, but your name – that is, the exact way you spell your name in your publications – is something that you should mind when trying to maximize your academic visibility, and this has to do with how databases and search engines work. Curiously, this issue is not only relevant to young scholars, on the verge of their first publication, but also to established scholars, who may find that their work is suddenly harder to locate due to name issues.

While in the past the scholar's main focus was to find a name spelling that would appear 'distinguished' and 'serious', today one has to put much more emphasis on easy and precise retrieval of their work. This is because of the way databases of academic works currently operate. While there are academic databases that invest energy in determining exactly to whom each academic work belongs (Widiem's database is one of them), many others don't, and merely utilize an open text search to locate an author's published works. Consequently, with such tools, what the user who performs a search on your name will receive is the works of all scholars with names similar to yours. In some cases, when there are many similarities, he or she may become frustrated over failing to locate your work and give up completely, while in other cases the clutter will prevent people from reaching 'just' some of your work.

If you decided, for instance, to publish your work under the name David Smith (as is, without a middle name), your work is likely to be extremely hard to locate. Adding a middle initial may certainly help in this case, but may not be enough if you are counting on easy retrieval. If your last name is Rajagehscar, for instance, you shouldn't be concerned, since this name (spelled thus) is extremely rare, and you can even opt to follow the old practice of using initials in lieu of first and middle names, a practice that in most cases is not recommended these days. Most cases are located between the two extremes, and it is important to find out which is yours, and take the proper steps accordingly.

Widiem has devised a tool that simplifies this process of checking for similarities. The tool is free, and all you need to do is enter your exact name either as you publish it or wish to publish it, and a confirmed email.

First Name (or initial)
Middle Name (or initial)
Last Name
Email (will be confirmed)

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