I'm about to submit a paper where one of the authors is a past student who got a master's degree at my university a few months ago (I was his advisor). He plans to apply for PhD positions at the next deadline, but is presently unemployed. What should we write on the manuscript for his institution? "Master's graduate, previously at XXX University"? "Former student at XXX University" (this doesn't specify that he actually got a degree, though)? The dreaded "Independent researcher"?


2 Answers 2


Whenever I co-write a paper with former students of mine, based on their MSc thesis, we typically put XXX University as affiliation of both the student and me. The bulk of the work has been done when both of us were affiliated with this university, so this seems appropriate. The fact that the student is no longer affiliated with the university seems of minor importance to me.

Does the venue to which you submit demand that you specify the role of each author? If not, I'd just let it be. If so, consider "MSc alumnus", substituting the appropriate title for "MSc".

  • Thanks! No need to specify the role, I think. Feb 2, 2021 at 7:52

He performed the research activity while affiliated with your group. You do not need to be PhD/Professor/Dean/whatever-self-important-academic-title to submit a research for peer review. If you really need a title, it can be "scientific assistant", or "pre-graduate student" or any linear combination/contraption of the terms.

Along this note, it is clear to me that even Master thesis work is still work (you are even thinking about publishing it), even if the student is learning, so I strongly feel he/she should be compensated, however, let's not derange from the question.

Judging "independent researcher" as dreaded is absolutely unintelligent. No offense intended, it is just a sign of the time, since some independent researcher are known to be independent from their brain, then all independent researcher are to be considered so. This is the most antiscientific way of thinking I can think of.

  • 5
    I think the question is about the institution, not the title.
    – Buffy
    Feb 1, 2021 at 15:34
  • Why 'pre-graduate'? He has a master's degree. Feb 1, 2021 at 15:34
  • @Buffy the work was done while the person was at the institution, so it is a no-brainer. If another affiliation comes up during the peer-review process, then the new affiliations can be added to the author's
    – EarlGrey
    Feb 1, 2021 at 15:35
  • @FedericoPoloni So if he has a master degree from your Uni, the person named xyz uio is simply "xyz uio, M.Sc Biosillogism, your Uni".
    – EarlGrey
    Feb 1, 2021 at 15:43

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