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A friend of mine submitted a paper to a conference, about a topic he was working on in his company. Recently, he got fired from his company so unfairly due to colleagues jealousy (seriously). He already got approval for publication when he was there, but the submission was made arter the firing. The work was a side project, not exact responsibility for him. And he was the only author from the company.

Is he obliged to add his company name as his affiliation? They are not going to pay for the registration and travel sponsorship. He doesn't want to mention he even worked there.

  • What does "as a side project for him" mean? Did he do all the work on his personal time using his personal equipment? Is he salaried or hourly? – cag51 Mar 19 '18 at 23:41
  • No, it was also during company time. He was salaried. – Tina J Mar 20 '18 at 0:33
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If I am understanding this correctly, the paper was submitted while the person was still working for the company. If this is the case, then the affiliation should stay the same as it was at the time of submission, as it sounds as though the work was explicitly done as part of their responsibilities at the company. A second affiliation might later be added, for the person's new position, if it is appropriate and the conference supports this, but the first should remain.

If the paper was submitted after the person was fired, that is a much bigger problem, and it is unclear from what you have written whether that would be appropriate, ethical, or even legal.

  • He already got approval for publication when he was there, but the submission was made arter the firing and he had no job at the exact moment. – Tina J Mar 19 '18 at 13:56
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    If the work was done for the company and the publication approval went through the company, then the affiliation should definitely continue to list the company. – jakebeal Mar 19 '18 at 14:01
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Given that the paper is on a topic he was working on in that company, it would be appropriate for the company to be given some kind of acknowledgement in the paper. You said that he already has approval to publish, but since he was their employee at the time, it would be reasonable to assume that this approval was given on the presumption that the company would get acknowledgement in the paper. At minimum, I think this requires an acknowledgement to the company in the paper.

I suggest that your friend grit his teeth and write a nice happy acknowledgement at the end of the paper. This is also an opportunity for him to show he is the bigger man in a situation where he has been treated unfairly, but is nonetheless able to give fair and friendly acknowledgement to his former employer. I'd suggest an acknowledgement at the end of the paper to this effect:

Acknowledgement: Parts of the research for this paper were undertaken while the author was employed as [position] at [company]. The author thanks [company] for its support in undertaking this research.

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This could represent a sticky issue. There are a number of factors to consider in his situation: (1) was the work funded by the former employer ? (2) were there other collaborators that are currently employed by the company ? (3) could the work in anyway be considered proprietary to the company ?

If any of the answers to the above are a 'yes', then I would say he should seek the company's permission to present. I would think that the only safe way to exclude the company affiliation is if the work being presented is so general that it would not necessarily represents the company's interests.

  • Added some details. He already got approval for publication when he was there, but the submission was made arter the firing when he had no job. The work was a side project, not exact responsibility for him. – Tina J Mar 19 '18 at 13:58
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I'll add another perspective now that you've clarified that he prepared the paper during company time. Imagine that Bob sells a computer for $1000, then gets fired for no reason. Can he keep the $1000 and take the computer back? Of course not. The situation in this case is exactly the same -- he sold his time in exactly the same way that Bob sold his computer.

Of course, now that he is fired, he is under no obligation to attend the conference and present the paper, especially at his own expense. Whether backing out is a good idea is a subject for another question.

  • He'll add the company affiliations anyways! – Tina J Mar 20 '18 at 5:31
  • I would ask the company if they want this. – eckes Mar 31 '18 at 10:35

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