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Scientific databases widely used in anglophone countries should cater for contributors from cultures that do not follow the format of a given name followed by one family name. Such inconsistencies cause problems for academic referencing and mask scientists’ cultural diversity in the scientific record.

In Spain, for example, people have two surnames, one from each parent. One of us, who should be indexed as Mira Pérez, J., is often wrongly cited as Pérez, J. M.. Spanish scientists use hyphens or drop a name to avoid such errors. Asian scientists can face a similar problem (see Nature 451, 766–767; (2008); N. Puniamoorthy et al. Nature 452, 530; 2008): in Indonesia, for example, many have only one name (see go.nature.com/3xgf6v).

The anglophone naming system can also intrude on other aspects of research, including grant applications and conference registration. EasyChair is an example of a conference-managing system that has diversified to accommodate people with two surnames or none at all (https://easychair.org).



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