I'm an on-again-off-again academic, I guess you could say: I've switched positions in and out of academia several times over the past decade. When I write academic papers (or even Free Software in the context of academic work), I often face a dilemma regarding which email address to put down in my contact information. The dilemma is not always the same; I want to focus my question on two scenarios:

  • Research work you pursue "on your own time" which is not a (direct) part of what you work on at your current employer; and when you know your employment is likely to end soon.
  • Research work you pursue between periods of employment, or which your current employer is not interested in being associating with.

So, here are some options of what to use as your email in these scenarios, by no particular order:

  1. An email account on the university you got your PhD from, which is guaranteed not to expire (as much as these things can be guaranteed), and does not indicate whether you are a student, or currently a faculty member etc.
    Example: your_name@alma_mater_uni.ac.xy
  2. Your general-purpose personal email address at some large, free mail account provider.
    Example: [email protected]
  3. A professional-affairs-only custom email address at one of the large, free email account providers.
    Example: [email protected], or [email protected] or something better-sounding.
  4. A personal email address at a smaller, academia-oriented mail account provider. (I don't know any of these but perhaps they exist - with free or paid accounts.)
    Example: [email protected] or [email protected]
  5. A professional-affairs-only email address at a smaller, for-pay mail account provider.
    Example: [email protected]

Which do you believe is the best choice, and why?

A related question: Which email address should a student use in a publication?

  • 3
    Why not to use gmail for anything you do? it is pretty common today to see gmail as a corresponding Email in the research papers.
    – student
    Dec 29, 2018 at 22:15
  • 2
    @student: Gmail is terrible - they data-mine your personal correspondence, never delete it, and send a copy of everything to the US government. I would discourage you from using it altogether.
    – einpoklum
    Dec 29, 2018 at 22:24
  • 5
    If you have a personal website, get an email domain and use that email!
    – The Guy
    Dec 29, 2018 at 23:24
  • 1
    @TheGuy: I wonder if you can get an MX record associated with a github.io site.
    – einpoklum
    Dec 30, 2018 at 7:21
  • @einpoklum yes, I have one. Jan 29, 2019 at 16:02

6 Answers 6


After some of my personal e-mail hopping (also as corresponding emails on papers), I'd recommend getting a domain name and linking it to one of your email accounts. That is, only if you do not get to retain your academic email indefinitely if you have one (the uni I used to be at has the regulation to delete the e-mail and do no forwarding...)

By having your own domain, you can move services but keep the actual email consistent over time. I.e., you can use [email protected] and where that points to just changes.

Any kind of service (and domain) that you cannot move around nor have any assurances for longevity on, are to be avoided IMO. I made that mistake with both my university and a corporate account so I learned the hard way...

  • I (largely) agree, I'll add: domains are cheap. (I disagree with using an academic email, since it is unclear which of the indefinite academic email addresses should be used. Also, it assumes that indefinite survives policy changes...)
    – user2768
    Jan 29, 2019 at 16:04

My current policy is to maintain a professional webpage which provides my current professional email address. This webpage must be properly indexed by Google, so that anybody searching a reasonable combination of my name and domain would find it in the top results (in my experience it helps to host it under an academic institution website, since it's usually very well referenced).

Rationale: I tend to consider that using my employer-provided email address is a way to give them due credit for my academic production, this is why I use it even if I'm on a temporary position. As OP rightly suggests, somebody might try to contact me later with an obsolete email address. My assumption is that somebody with a relatively serious request would at least take the time to google me when their email bounces back, then they can find me and contact me easily. And to be completely honest, I don't mind missing the emails from those who wouldn't do this small effort.


You can get a domain name for less than 25 bucks per year maintenance. Google gmail will allow you to then create an email that looks like a corporate email. For example [email protected]. The cost of the gmail is ~50 USD per year. You can use the same domain for consulting work and even get an LLC if you need/want. This will serve you well in being more permanent, professional, and supporting you in moving around. If you publish at a university or company, I would try to stick with your "brand". But if they insist to have theirs, list yours as additional using a little footnote as "alternate email" or "permanent email".

P.s. Not advertising Google. They are just a default vendor. I'm sure there are alternates. But you get the concept.

  • 1
    I use fastmail, myself. So far, I'm happy with them. Jan 29, 2019 at 21:10
  • 1
    You are actually advertizing Google. Also, they are the opposite of the "default vendor" - they're some place that is completely absolutely impossible to use if you want even a semblance of privacy rather than sharing all of your mail with the NSA and some of it with advertisers. So - please replace it with someplace else. Also $25/year for a domain name is rather expensive for an itinerant - i.e. non-tenured - academic.
    – einpoklum
    Jan 29, 2019 at 21:26

You may use an alias such as one provided by IEEE ([email protected]). You can map it to any email-account and since the mapping can be changed to any other email account, you don't have to write different email accounts in your research paper when you change organizations. Plus, they look very professional.

  • That's an option, but you have to want to be associated with the IEEE in a very fundamental way, which is something not everyone wants.
    – einpoklum
    Jan 30, 2019 at 0:10

I would recommend an alumni address at the institution you graduated from. That hadsa clear academic imprimatur. However, anything that is clearly a permanent address (including Gmail) should be fine. I had a graduate student who preferred to use his Gmail address even while he was in graduate school, and he has continue to use it since then, through post-doctoral positions and even a faculty position in a third-world country.


Until recently I used my personal address as it should remain long term stable. However, due to spam, I decided to periodically rotate email addresses used for contact information. If the email address starts to get too much spam, I'll switch it to an autoresponder with a link to a web form someone can use to contact me.

The address format I'm using at the moment is:


As others have suggested, it can be useful to register your own domain name for long term stability. Right now these addresses just forward to my personal email address.

The use of the autoresponder hopefully will avoid the problem of old email addresses becoming invalid.

I've also considered not listing an email address and instead linking to a page in a paper, e.g., https://trettelresearch.com/contact.html (this page does not exist at present). The contact page will contain a web form to email me. I'm not sure how many journals will accept this arrangement, but it should be long term stable and avoid spam.

Personally, when I look to contact a researcher, I usually try to find the most recent contact information I can. I do not know how often people try to find more recent information vs. simply email the address in the paper, though if most people try to find the most recent contact information, it might not be worthwhile to worry about having stable contact information in papers.

My ideas on this are presently evolving, so I'd appreciate any feedback on this. If you think having a different email address for each venue is absurd, I'd like to hear from you.

Also see: How can corresponding authors protect themselves from academic spam?

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