I'm teacher in a French university (I don't know if the right english term is 'tenured', I mean I'm hired permanently in this university, not temporarily), but I don't have any research role and I'm not connected to any research lab.

Still, I continue to do research during my free time (mostly continuing what I did during my PhD, not connected to the local labs research fields), and I would like to submit a paper to a journal.

Question: as I'm not hired by my university to do research, but only teaching, can I submit a paper like this:

On the cohomology of finite infinite categories
John Doe

University of Cityname
283, rue de Paris - 12345 CITY
[email protected]

or should I submit it this way, without any university name:

On the cohomology of finite infinite categories
John Doe
[email protected]

What could be the potential problems if I use my university name / edu-email address, whereas I'm not hired as researcher?

  • 1) Please edit in your job title in French in parentheses. 2) Please let us know what your field of research is. 3) Please be aware that 'lab' has a broader meaning in French than in English - only experimental natural scientists work in 'labs'; everyone else may or may not belong to a 'research group'. Jun 3, 2018 at 21:02
  • 14
    I disagree with Alexander, I've seen other types of scientists refer to their groups informally as labs. Dunno about math tho (is this math? I have no idea what those words mean) Jun 4, 2018 at 5:00
  • @OP Be also aware that if you find out that you must use the affiliation, or if you decide to use it anyway, your university has certainly rules on how you should write it precisely. It is not up to you. For example my former university wrote down a charter on how to write the affiliation, with different cases (corresponding author or not, affiliated to one or several organizations, etc).
    – user9646
    Jun 4, 2018 at 14:54
  • Have you checked your contract (or other such conditions) to see what restrictions they place on intellectual property that you produce?
    – E.P.
    Jun 4, 2018 at 15:12
  • 3
    The title says "Should I" and the question says "Can I". Things can get confusing when the title and question ask different things. Jun 4, 2018 at 19:18

7 Answers 7


The fact that this research isn't part of your job shouldn't prevent you from giving your employer as your affiliation. A paper by David Pincus about certain weak forms of the axiom of choice in set theory (J. Symbolic Logic 67 (1997) 438-456) lists his affiliations as "Department of Anesthesia, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Cambridge City Hospital". I can assure you that none of these anesthesiology departments paid David to prove theorems in set theory; he did this work in his free time.

  • 10
    I believe this answer to be wrong. First of all: while you can publish your employer's name it doesn't mean you have to. Secondly: just because some people do it doesn't mean you should do it. Who knows why David Pincus did that anyway? And finally: why should anyone take (some) credit for work that he had nothing to do with? Should I name McDonald's as the affiliation if I happen to work there at the moment?
    – freakish
    Jun 4, 2018 at 12:41
  • 1
    “none of these anesthesiology departments paid David to prove theorems in set theory“ — I’m not so sure. Of course things were different then but even in the last century research already started being interdisciplinary. For instance, many computer science results at the time were derived by biologists, some of which were working in hospitals. And even as researchers their affiliations looked as in your example. The original Needleman–Wunsch paper for instances has an affiliation of “Nuclear Medicine Service, Nuclear Medicine Service, V. A. Research Hospital Chicago”. Jun 4, 2018 at 13:20
  • 4
    And, more to the point: if I do research in my spare time I don’t list my employer as an affiliation. If I do it at work (even if it doesn’t directly affect my work) I’d list it. Jun 4, 2018 at 13:21
  • 3
    @KonradRudolph I don't see the point of your example. Needleman-Wunsch appears to be a DNA/protein sequence alignment algorithm, which seems pretty relevant to medicine to me. The axiom of choice is about as relevant to anaesthesiology as mediaeval literature. Jun 4, 2018 at 19:02
  • @freakish You claim this answer is wrong but it doesn't actually say any of the things you suggest that it does. It doesn't say that you have to give your employer as your affiliation. It doesn't say that you should. If you want to say that the answer should make recommendations, then fine, but that doesn't make it "wrong". Jun 4, 2018 at 19:07

I'm going to propose a different answer to everyone else: ask your university. I presume you teach in the same area as your research? If so, just ask a friendly senior researcher if it's OK to include the affiliation.

Certainly in the UK and in America, they would be delighted to have you declare your affiliation (because it increases their "published papers" count, and may increase their "citations" count too). However, French Universities may have a different set of incentives, and may prefer you not to declare an affiliation.

  • 1
    Yes, I think the only potential problem you may have by indicating your university affiliation is if they did not want you to do it for mysterious reason. It's probably better to ask them to be safe.
    – a3nm
    Jun 4, 2018 at 8:33
  • 1
    I would be surprised if a random researcher (even senior) knew what rules apply to non-research personnel. Why would they?
    – user9646
    Jun 4, 2018 at 14:50
  • 2
    @NajibIdrissi They might not know the rules, but they will know what incentives apply to the University, and whether there is any chance of their being rules, and who to ask. Jun 4, 2018 at 18:52
  • 1
    I am French and published a couple of papers referring to my engineering school research group, even though I wasn't affiliated to them at the time. They were delighted to have "free ad" as well. I wouldn't be surprised however that they'd like to read your paper before, so they can check if what you wrote is related and not "untrue" to their eyes.
    – avazula
    Jun 5, 2018 at 12:52

As I see it, it depends on several factors:

  • Is the university willing to be your affiliate for this publication? (Almost always Yes)
  • Do you want to emphasize the fact that this is independent research on the side (and perhaps the fact that the university is not paying you to do it, which maybe it should...)? Or - do you want to be more strongly associated with the university by listing them as the affiliate?
  • Has the university supported your researcher other than by employment, e.g. have you made use of its facilities, discussed your work with faculty etc.? (Note that if it has, but only to a minor extent, you can mention this in an acknowledgement rather than via an affiliation.)
  • Has the university in any way sanctioned, initiated or triggered this research?

Weigh these different factors together to reach a decision.


You should give your affiliation, that's basically it.

Usually, only universities, research institutions, and research labs are given as affiliation and people not affiliated with any of these just give no affiliation and a private email. So, if you are not affiliated with your alma mater any more, you not pretend you are. I do not see any problem with using your university email, though (if you still use is as alumnus).

  • 8
    Whether it's an affiliation or not is not very clear in my case. I am paid by the university in which I'm teacher, my univ office is where I sometimes spend time writing articles. I sometimes use the univ library to find research books, references, etc. The thing is just: I'm not researcher, I'm only teacher in my current university. PS: I didn't understand the part about alma mater / alumnus: I'm not speaking about the previous univ where I did PhD, I'm speaking about my current university where I'm teacher. Jun 3, 2018 at 21:00
  • 3
    So the case is clear: You are affiliated with your university and can use it on your paper. (Your university may even appreciate it, as it will count towards the overall research output.) Is doesn't make a difference whether you are paid for research or teaching.
    – Dirk
    Jun 4, 2018 at 4:16
  • 1
    @Dirk More than appreciate, it's probable that the university requires it.
    – user9646
    Jun 4, 2018 at 14:56

It depends. I once assumed that of course I should give my affiliation, until my employer complained and told me to give my name without an affiliation. After that I asked.

Given that you work at a university, I would expect the department to be unhappy if you didn't give your affiliation, unless they told you not to; However, the safest course of action is to ask your department head.

  • 1
    This is complicated in France. The teaching department is a formally different entity from the research department. This is why OP is not affiliated with a "research lab" (research department/unit), as OP is only a teacher.
    – user9646
    Jun 4, 2018 at 21:36

Just to add to previous answer, here is a possible incentive for you to state your affiliation to your university: it may be easier to get your paper published if you have a connection to a university.

This is certainly not a good thing, but I think that most editors and/or referees will tend to be more suspicious of a paper submitted by someone who does not have a research position. Giving your affiliation might alleviate such doubts.

On the other hand, I do not see any possible benefit for you to not cite your university.

That being said, it is probably best to ask confirmation/authorization from the lab director. From the information you gave, my guess is that you are a PRAG; you may want to ask them if you could get the status of "chercheur associé". This shouldn't change anything in practice (you don't get paid) but it gives a formal status to the situation.


I don't know about France specifically, but since you work at the university it seems to be it would be appropriate to mention it, maybe even preferred.

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