Being John Canning, not J. Canning
On twitter today I spotted an interesting article on reforming citation practices. One element that caught my eye was its mention of the practice of using surnames and first initial in the references (e.g. Canning, J. rather than Canning, John)
The author Patrick Dunleavy writes:
Academics and professionals from these smaller nations have been remarkably slow to appreciate the globalization of knowledge, and hence the need for much more distinctive author names. They (and their journals) are still reluctant to go beyond a single initial (J.) to distinguish John Smith from Joan Smith. By contrast, American publishers and journals (more accustomed to a country with 300 million people in it) tend to give the first name in full, and sometimes a second initial as well. Clearly, in the era of global search engines the US practice needs to become universal, but there is still a long way to go.
I am currently preparing to submit to a journal permits either style. Currently I have all the references in as Surname, Initial rather than Surname, Firstname. I think I might change this before I submit.
For the record I am not the only J. Canning publishing in academia in the UK. Joseph Canning (no known relation) is a lecturer in history at the University of Cambridge. I’ve only come across his work through searching for myself on databases. Type “John Canning” into google scholar and there are pages and pages of articles, few of which are mine.
Canning is a sufficiently uncommon surname for me not to have to worry about being mistaken for any other John Cannings within my own field (I say that like I’m well-known). On the other hand I was working for a few years in 'higher education studies' before realising that Peter Knight and Peter T Knight were different people.
My full name is John Gordon Canning, but I have always published as John Canning. I was named Gordon after my grandfather but I’ve not used the name or initial in my work. (At a conference in Montreal though I did have a giant badge reading “John G. Canning” which I quite liked.)
No journal has ever asked my for ID and there is no rule that you have to use your actual name, or that you can’t add a middle name. Michael J Fox’s middle name is Andrew. If I lived in the shadow of another John Canning I could call myself John X Canning or John Xavier Canning even though neither is my name. I could Cymrify my name as Ioan ap Phylip (John, son of Philip) or just go for initials (J G Canning).
As it is agree that I’ll stick to being John Canning (or Canning, John) and not J. Canning (or Canning, J.).