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Home > 1. PC Basics > 1.4 Identity/Email

1.4 Managing Your Identity and Digital Communications in Marine Science

  • Author:  Murray Brown (incorporating comments from reviewers)

  • Version:  5-27-2015

Managing Textual Identity      Managing Email      Managing Unique Digital Identity



1. Your Personal Name
  • Review the most frequently used version of your name, and determine if it is how you want to be identified for the rest of your professional career
  • If you speak Spanish or Portuguese, then please discuss special Hispanic name issues with your academic librarian.
  • The longer the name, the more chances for errors in spelling and interpretation (by editors, indexers and metadata-writers).  Consider shortening multiple names down to 2 or 3, depending on uniqueness.
  • BUT, if the name is too short, then it won't be unique and won't be useful for searching:
    • Murray Lewis Brown - Longer than most Anglicized names; OK, but possibly too long
    • Murray L. Brown - Excellent; probably unique in marine science
    • Murray Brown - Comes up with at least 8 people in Google, but possibly OK; "Brown" just isn't very unique
    • M. Brown - Absolutely too short
    • John B. Smith Jr. or John B. Smith Junior - The main name is fine.  But the personal suffix "Junior" or "Jr." is very awkward, in the opinion of a senior US NOAA library officer.  It may be completely OK on personal items or in social situations, such as introductions, business cards or nameplates on physical items, but please don't use such suffixes within formal publications. 
      • For socially appropriate suffixes, John B. Smith Jr. becomes John B. Smith II upon the death of his father (or III, or IV, etc. depending on how many there have been).  So "Junior"/"Jr." is not even permanent within the family.
    • John Smith II - The "II" should not be used unless successive generations of published persons within one family would cause confusion
  • You might consider hyphens to connect family names so they are not confused with given (i.e. personal) names.
  • Make small changes, additions or deletions to your name, if necessary, to get a "best name"
  • Immediately begin using the best name -- and only that name -- forever.
    • Only exception, marriage name adjustment for women, if desired
  • Use only the best name in academic programs, on scientific papers, and on diplomas.  If you use any other name, you risk losing the connection between YOU and your professional output.
2. Transliteration of Your Name
  • Review the current spelling of your best name, to see how it converts into other systems, i.e. from one UNICODE set to another. 
  • Yes, there are UNICODE codes for every letter in every alphabet, but not all of these can be read or used by all software programs.  If the software screws up, then your name will be spelled in a strange way and cannot be correctly indexed or searched.  You could publish hundreds of papers, but people won't be able to find all of them, or to find the one most important one you want them to see.
  • Consult your own librarians to see how they advise you to spell your best name in the language of the Internet.
  • If your best name does not appear to convert correctly when you enter it in software or online systems, then consider changing or dropping:
    • Accents, tildes, cedillas, acutes, circumflexes , etc.
  • Consider transliterating "common" letters from your national alphabet to widely recognized equivalents, such as OE for the Danish , if absolutely necessary.  But on the other hand, Microsoft Outlook searches for both possibilities when you enter either one as the search token.
  • This is all completely up to you, but you do need to take the time to consider these concepts.
3. Consistent Spelling of Your Name
  • After you have selected a best name and transliterated it to the best format for the Internet, then watch out for spelling problems
  • Some authors use very similar, but different, transliterated versions of their names, for example:
    • Mohamed
    • Mohammed
    • Muhamed
    • Mohamet
  • Good ol' Mo doesn't care what he uses, using acceptable transliterations -- but 4 different spellings.  You must be careful to keep exactly the same spelling for every part of your best name.  [This is actually a real case from an MDL student.]
4. Memberships and Registrations
  • UPDATE your personal information in systems, organizations, universities etc. with your best name, if needed
  • REGISTER in OceanExpert using your best name
  • SIGNATURES:  Put your best name at the bottom of all emails in the SIGNATURE BLOCK.  This helps your correspondents to keep accurate records.
  • NOTIFICATION:  You might even consider sending a mass email to all professional colleagues in your mail client program to notify them of your updated or revised best name.


1. EMail Address
  • HOW MANY?  It is a huge mistake to create numerous email addresses, period.  One or 2 are probably OK; 3 is probably trouble; 4 or more are crazy
  • WHICH SYSTEM?  About 10% of MDL students have submitted email addresses that disappeared within 2-3 years.
    • Most "academic emails" such as are temporary and will disappear when you get your degree, so don't use them.
    • Will your agency last forever and is your job completely safe?  If not, then get a "global system" email and use it more often. 
    • Don't use free email boxes of a small or local entities, such as
    • Just pick a major global system, like Yahoo or Gmail, and use it. 
  • WHAT NAME?  Use a name that is recognizably yours, and not a fantasy name or something you think is funny:
    • is sexist and probably objectionable to many
    • is reasonably identified and looks more professional
    • is probably the best attempt, because the name is complete and there is an indication of her affiliation.
  • BEST NAME:  When you pick an email name, use your "best name" from above, plus perhaps a string to identify your affiliation or agency.
    • Only use lower-case letters
    • For spacing, use full stops (.) or underscores ( _ ), but not spaces or commas or anything strange
    • Do not use hyphens
    • Do not use special characters:
      • Accents, tildes, cedillas, acutes, circumflexes , etc.
2.  Good EMAIL Practices
  • ABANDONING AN OLD BOX:  If you abandon an email address, then:
    • Contact important correspondents about the change
    • Place a "vacation" message at the old address about your new address, and leave it online for several months (at least) before you close it
  • REDUCE TRAFFIC:  How to cut down on useless internet traffic:
    • When you get an email, don't use REPLY ALL, unless that is a good idea; think about it and stop using that for all replies
    • Do not always include the entire incoming message in the reply; they roll up like snowballs and become HUGE!
  • GROUP EMAIL PRACTICE: If you initiate a group email to a list, then send it to yourself with a BCC to the group.  This protects the email address list from spammers.  Also it stops the Mad Mailer who uses REPLY ALL just to say "Thank you", thus spamming 800 people with junk.



A number of programs have recently targeted the problems relating to use of differing names or digital identities, especially for publications and data.  This space will be used to list these efforts, and perhaps in the future to provide any consensus documents or mechanisms when they appear.  When any universal mechanism(s) become standard practices, then the problems described above could possibly become mute.
  • ORCID - "ORCID provides a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automated linkages between you and your professional activities ensuring that your work is recognized."
  • ISNI - "International Standard Name Identifier (ISO 27729).  ISNI is the ISO certified global standard number for identifying the millions of contributors to creative works and those active in their distribution, including researchers, inventors, writers, artists, visual creators, performers, producers, publishers, aggregators, and more. It is part of a family of international standard identifiers that includes identifiers of works, recordings, products and right holders in all repertoires, e.g. DOI, ISAN, ISBN, ISRC, ISSN, ISTC, and ISWC."
  • ResearcherID - "ResearcherID provides a solution to the author ambiguity problem within the scholarly research community. Each member is assigned a unique identifier to enable researchers to manage their publication lists, track their times cited counts and h-index, identify potential collaborators and avoid author misidentification. In addition, your ResearcherID information integrates with the Web of Knowledge and is ORCID compliant, allowing you to claim and showcase your publications from a single one account. Search the registry to find collaborators, review publication lists and explore how research is used around the world!"
  • Another program, in which the IODE is involved, is also looking into "unique identities for individuals."  More information will be provided here later.