ACS Publications' Name Change Policy Advances Inclusion in Scholarly Publishing - ACS Axial
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ACS Publications’ Name Change Policy Advances Inclusion in Scholarly Publishing

At ACS Publications, we’re committed to creating an inclusive experience for all of our author, reader, and reviewer communities by championing an environment that advances and celebrates diversity, inclusion, and respect. As we celebrate Pride Month 2021, we want to share the changes that ACS is undertaking to create a more inclusive experience for our authors, and reflect on how our initiatives are impacting the entire sector of scholarly communications.

In September of 2020, ACS announced a new trans-inclusive policy to allow authors to change the names used on their previously published articles. This policy was designed with the needs of the transgender scientific community in mind, and with the generous assistance of several members of that community. In the nine months, the policy has been in place, we have already received requests to update over 200 publications from more than 30 authors, with some articles dating back several decades.

Under ACS’ policy, an author who requests a name change for any reason is treated with confidentiality and respect. The author is not asked to provide proof or documentation of their name change, and a name change is not treated as a correction to their paper. Thus, any co-authors are not alerted to the change and no public notice is added to the paper. The ACS policy also ensures that all other references to the author’s identity, including pronouns, salutations, captions, and other elements of the paper, are updated appropriately. ACS was the first chemistry publisher to adopt this policy and shared its lessons learned from implementation with other publishers to encourage them to adopt similar policies.

Following ACS Publications’ lead, other scholarly publishers have announced similar policies or have publicly confirmed that they’re working on similar policies. The impact has gone far beyond the field of chemistry, as two working groups from the National Information Standards Organization and the Committee on Publication Ethics have formed to address similar issues.

ACS recently joined the Coalition for Diversity & Inclusion in Scholarly Communications (C4DISC) as a gold partner. C4DISC is jointly hosted by the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) and Association of University Presses (AUP) and was formed to provide a venue to discuss and address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the scholarly communications industry. C4DISC has an active working group focusing on inclusive language and image guidelines that we plan to be involved with, as we work to create a more inclusive community across publishing.

ACS Publications continues to work toward a more positive and gender-inclusive experience for authors at all stages of their publication journey. We are presently in the process of removing gendered honorifics from ACS Paragon Plus account profiles and gendered pronouns in journal correspondence, replacing them with gender-neutral language. New authors and reviewers have the option to choose from an updated list of gender-neutral titles.

How can ACS Publications continue to improve inclusivity in scientific publishing? Share your thoughts via our bias feedback form or in the comments below.

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