Similar questions have been asked here a number of times. I am raising it again to stress some specific issues that the previous threads have not resolved in my opinion.
The question is simply, what should the stated affiliation of a co-author who is employed in the industry be, considering that research was undertaken as an unpaid side-project in a field unrelated to that of their place of employment at the time (i.e. no conflict of interests).
Possible solutions are:
- No affiliation.
I am concerned that this will stand out, given that all other authors have affiliations.
- Previous academic affiliation.
Some users (in previous answers) seem to think that adding a previous academic institute as the affiliation for such an author is ethically wrong.
Moreover, I am concerned about crediting an institute that did not support the work, when this co-author's contribution was not supported by any institute.
- Affiliation of otherwise unknown non-profit research organisation, specifically created for the purpose of providing an affiliation.
This would be ideal, as there is no misattribution or blank affiliation field; however, I am concerned that this will also look anomalous in the list of affiliations.