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I see that there are many questions on whether putting/putting how many affiliation(s) on a paper. My situation does not quite fit into all the existing questions, so I am posting my question here.

First of all I am currently working as a part-time lecturer at two different colleges in the same city. I am writing my paper on my own, and neither of them has support for my research (besides having access to some database of my field and access to journal papers). I am not sure if I should put any of the colleges I am currently working at as affiliations. The reasons of my concern are

  1. The number of courses I teach at these two colleges vary from semester to semester. I expect in some semester I would not have any course to teach at one or even both of the colleges. This means in some coming semesters I may not affiliate with these colleges (for example the summer semester).

  2. I would prefer to put the university I obtained my PhD degree as the affiliation, and write something like "Alumni of XXX University". But I have not seen this before in any paper, and I am not sure if this is the norm.

  3. I do not object writing myself as independent scholar, but I probably will use the email of the university I obtained my PhD degree in this case. But then I would think why don't I do 2. in above.

Sometimes I think submitting a paper to a journal by a university email address is better than personal email address in the sense that the editor will take it slightly more seriously.

  • Are either of your positions permanent - or at least with more than a 1-year contract? – Nathan S. Sep 4 at 18:46
  • @NathanS. Neither my current positions are permanent. Their contracts are semester-based. So if they offer me a course to teach then I am hired. On the other hand, my previous full time position is contract-based, but I had 4 consecutive one-year contracts. Yep, the universities in the city I am currently living in are.... – GRR Sep 5 at 4:43
  • Are you sure either or both of the colleges approve or at least so not care about you publishing under their affiliation? The university where I made my PhD had a pre-submission approval process (mostly a formality to keep track of who published where and enforcing a unified affiliation formatting but I imagine they would have blocked me from submitting an apology for mass murder). – UJM Sep 5 at 12:21
  • @UJM To be honest I am not sure about their policy on publications. What I can say is I saw a paper published under one of the affiliations I am currently working in. In that paper there are two authors, one of them is a full-time staff while the other one seems to be a part-time staff at that time (and that part-time staff works full-time right now at the same college), The two authors wrote down the same college for affiliation. This is all I know... – GRR Sep 5 at 16:11
  • You might want to ask one of those authors to check. – UJM Sep 5 at 18:13
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Affiliations are about finding and positively identifying you, as well as also understanding your approach to the problem.

For example (and this is a real case), I would put much less stock in linguistics papers authored by people in the economics department than linguistics.

In the US and Canada, institutions derive so little value from having their name as your affiliation, I don't personally see much of a point in not putting the institutions you're currently at to "stick it to them." In any case, having a real affiliation looks much better than "Independent Scholar" (perhaps unfortunately).

Commenters indicate this is different in other systems, which I'm not qualified to address. Nonetheless, I would err on the side of including them; not only because of your quote below, but for the benefit of the community and improving your own credibility.

besides having access to some database of my field and access to journal papers

This is not nothing. I would recommend putting the colleges you currently teach at. If they no longer employ you at the final check, take them off.

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    "A college derives so little value from having their name as your affiliation" -- while I do not disagree with your answer as a whole, this is not necessarily true. In some countries, the university will get quite a significant amount of money when the paper would be published in a good journal/conference. – user2316602 Sep 5 at 7:23
  • @user2316602 Where does that happen? And who does the money come from? – Azor Ahai -him- Sep 5 at 16:09
  • In the Czech Republic at least. The money comes from the government. I believe that the money is tied to the affiliation on the paper, though I am not certain. – user2316602 Sep 5 at 16:38
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    In France, hospital research centres are partially funded via "SIGAPS points" directly linked to publications (between ~1k€ and ~18k€ per article depending on journal impact factor and rank in author list). Those are also used for administrators to give out promotions. And yes, it leads to author order manipulation. (Source, in French) – UJM Sep 5 at 17:53
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    Good answer +1. Understanding the department where the author works, gives an idea about their general field of expertise (sure, it may be misleading, but normally, it gives some picture). – Captain Emacs Sep 5 at 20:38
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Being a graduate of some institution is not an "affiliation" in the normal sense of the term since the association has ended. You can say that somewhere, of course, say in an author footnote, but Independent Scholar or Independent Researcher is a more accurate description of your case.

But, if you have to give an email address in the header, make sure that it is one that will endure. Actually, everyone should try to do that, though it isn't always possible. It is more important for independent's however, since it is harder to track you down in years to come of you don't have a current affiliation when you write a paper.

But you are correct, IMO, not to list your part time institutions under affiliation since they have had no part in supporting your research.

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Merriam-Webster defines "affiliation" as

the state or relation of being closely associated or affiliated with a particular person, group, party, company, etc.

This would be one of the two colleges or maybe even both. It doesn't matter, whether you did your research with their help or not. The affiliation gives you credibility and the affiliation can show what great stuff they employ.

If you are employed by a company and your publication is unrelated to your day job, as it was done in your spare time, my answer would differ. Many companies don't want to have their names used without some grand-grand-boss confirming that it is ok and does the brand no harm.

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