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I study in an institution that never provided me or any other student with an institution e-mail. I feel that this is highly prejudicial to my academic success because a) it forbids me to access closed content, except if I'm accessing it through an institutional computer; and b) it prevents me from being acknowledged by the scientific community. My profile at Google Scholar isn't showing on searches because I don't have a valid institutional e-mail. I cannot create a Scopus profile for the same reason. I really feel that's holding me back when it comes to fully participating in the academic sphere. I've already filed 2 requests for an e-mail, but they simply answer that they don't hand them to masters' students.

My question is if there are alternatives that are suitable to my case that doesn't envolve arguing with the dean about it, because I'm literally days away from my graduation, and if I'm not mistaken, I believe those expire when you graduate. Am I wrong?

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    Probably it is worth arguing with the dean. Point out the negatives for you and other graduates. Of course, it may be that your institute is just incompetent and no one has adequate IT support, I guess. – Buffy Nov 15 '18 at 16:17
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    I have heard that Google Scholar will accept a .org email address if you can get one of those. – Ben Trettel Nov 15 '18 at 21:02
  • @BenTrettel that is useful information. Indeed, Google Scholar listing is my main concern. If you have any tips on how to get one, I'm all ears. – Eric Lino Nov 15 '18 at 22:08
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    @EricLino Please clarify what your problem is with Google Scholar. You only need a gmail address to create a Google Scholar profile. – Thomas Dec 9 '18 at 5:34
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Some scientific organizations like ieee provide an life-long (or membership-long) e-mail adress which can be used in an academic context. The advantage is, that it will stay valid even if your affiliation changes. The downside is, you will collect spam forever ;-).

In our university, all students are in a dedicated "firstname.lastname@student.our-university.de" scheme, and they are deleted a few months after graduation. This does not help for long-term communication issues, but allows access for restricted content during the time of study.

In general, I believe your institution should provide an e-mail address due to many reasons (e.g. authentification, ease of communication, etc.), honestly it is hard to imagine how we would run our institution without.

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    The Institute of Physics does this too, you get a nice <name>@physics.org address. – astronat Nov 15 '18 at 16:32
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    In CS you can join ACM and get an acm.org address. You can have it forwarded to any other account you like. – Buffy Nov 15 '18 at 16:39
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    @OBu You're right, it's very difficult, both on the administration side and the students'. Important messages get lost in personal e-mail storage and students have limited access to articles most of the time, which worsens research quality and results in low productivity. Anyway, unfortunately those alternatives are very costly from my developing country perspective, so it doesn't really solve my issue. On the other hand, your answer is the most useful, so unless nobody gives a better solution to my problem in the coming hours, I'm accepting yours. – Eric Lino Nov 15 '18 at 22:15
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First off, sorry to hear that your institution is being unreasonable. They really should offer an institutional email address.

In addition to the other answers, another option is to buy a personal domain and set up email. That costs about $1/month. That gives you bob@bobsmith.org or similar. I use this (and also have a website) and consider it a good alternative to ever-changing institutional email addresses.

Answering your other questions:

Either your institution provides institutional access to various services or it doesn't. An email address will not change this. You need to work with your institution to see what options there are for off-campus access. Most places provide off-campus access through a proxy service. Check the library website for such information. The alternative is to pay for such services yourself.

The expiry of institutional email addresses is a matter of the institution's policy and this varies from place to place. Some will expire immediately when you leave. Some will remain active for, say one year. Some will continue indefinitely. I have experienced all three policies. Many people prefer to use personal email addresses wherever possible in order to avoid dealing with expiring email addresses.

Regarding your concerns with Google Scholar:

To have a public Google Scholar profile, you only need a Gmail account. There is no need for an institutional address. The verified address can be a personal domain (I just checked).

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    The question is rather clear. Some websites will only work with an institutional address, like google scholar. And I do agree that it should be provided to current students. Outside access to paper is another matter, but that's solvable with VPN/ssh. It really is something to kick up to IT – Fábio Dias Dec 9 '18 at 5:09
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    @FábioDias Google scholar just requires a gmail address. I don't know what you are talking about. – Thomas Dec 9 '18 at 5:28
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    @EricLino It's not clear to me that institutional emails grant you institutional access to papers - I don't think I've ever encountered a publisher where it did, but I may have an unrepresentative sample. If you've got particular places in mind where that's not the case, perhaps either an edit to the question or (more likely) a new question with that detail would be suitable. – Michael Homer Dec 9 '18 at 6:31
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    @EricLino Please specify this problem in your question! We cannot answer questions you don't ask. I think this should be a separate question, as your problem is not with your institutional email, but with Google Scholar. – Thomas Dec 10 '18 at 2:03
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    @EricLino I just checked this with my own Google Scholar profile. I verified my personal domain email address and the message disappeared. In other words, my answer solves this problem. – Thomas Dec 10 '18 at 2:11
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Have you asked your institution's librarians about getting access to databases via the library when you're not using a campus computer? My institution lets me log in to its library from anywhere, using my computer access password. Once I'm logged in I can access all sorts of databases through the library's subscription.

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  • There is a VPN service, however the university IT is implementing a new network and for some reason they had to take it down for a while. Not to mention when it gets back, I'll need to get my laptop registered on the university's network again and it usually takes a couple weeks, which I don't have. – Eric Lino Dec 10 '18 at 3:14
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It’s becoming more acceptable to use non-institutional email addresses to contact collaborators or prospective employers. For example, I use my Gmail account frequently and know several others who this as well. You can create an account for free and even have it forward to your existing email address (or forward your existing address to Gmail).

However, for the purposes of having an “institution” email for academic services, you gave a valid reason for getting one. These do not typically expire after your candidature but it is worth checking University policy on this. In my experience, so do allow you to use them for personal reasons and to continue to access them after you graduate or take up another job. As a researcher, it is in their benefit to support you to do your research, including participating in conferences, publishing on journals, and establishing a reputation with citation tools etc. This means that your email address on your publications should reflect your affiliation with them and you should be able to be contacted with it to support the publication, such as answering questions about published methods and data.

You can dispute their rejection of including you. I did the same when I was a postgraduate student. I was mistaken for an undergraduate and denied an institutional email address. I had to explain that I am conducting research as part of my project which will benefit the University. The status of my course was being changed at the time and there was a lot of confusion about it. I think now those enrolled in it are issued postgraduate email addresses automatically.

In my case, I did not have to involve the Dean. I just had to clarify the status of my course. They handle a huge number of emails each year so there should be no reason that they cannot add an account for you. It will cost them almost nothing. You may need your supervisor to vouch for you that you will comply with university policy for using an email address. As you are not a staff member, it is more difficult to hold students accountable. They may want to ensure that their servers are not used to distribute spam or such things (it’s a huge inconvenience to staff if their domain is blacklisted). There may be some minor paperwork involved. Just ask what you need to do to.

Make sure that you are polite. University administrative staff may not fully understand the details of your course. They handle a large number of students requests per day and likely mostly deal with undergraduates (so they may not understand that the needs of postgraduates are different).

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To respond to your question at the end of the post: Yes, your email address with your institution would most likely expire after your graduation. For that reason, I barely used the email address provided by my University.

Without going into detail of benefits of an email with your institutions domain, I would suggest creating an email account that you will keep throughout your carrer. I think its nice to have one that wont change if you change the institution you work for.

Personally, I created an address with startmail.com. I felt like it looked more professional than a @yahoo or @gmail address.

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  • though I appreciate your input on alternatives to gmail and yahoo, I feel like it is expected from researchers to have e-mails with expiration dates, so I personally don't really have a problem with a usage deadline. That is why social networks such as ResearchGate are so effective. – Eric Lino Nov 15 '18 at 22:31

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