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For your name's sake

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Zhaoping, L. (2010). For your name's sake. Current Biology, 20(8), R341. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2010.03.020.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0002-C72B-E
Science is a community enterprise in which individual scientists contribute to, and draw from, the collective effort and knowledge. A contribution can only have an impact if it can be accessed by fellow scientists, and in this age of information explosion, the access had better be easy! A recent informal survey of 123 researchers found that author name (often combined with a rough date of the research work) is the most frequently used information ‘handle’, with more than three quarters of the respondents employing this to look up — for example, in databases or using search engines — or tell colleagues about a piece of work they have heard or seen. Good luck finding a particular paper by Dr X Wang — or worse yet, Dr Wang without the first initial — if you have forgotten other useful handles, such as a distinctive subject keyword, that can be used to retrieve it. If this paper has only a single author, and this author has such a non-distinct common name, 43% of the surveyed researchers reported that they would be less likely even to look up or communicate the paper.