As title suggests. First year Doctoral fellow with a scholarship. The article has no bearing on my Doctoral thesis. It is a side project. My synopsis hasn't even been finalized yet. So should I have mentioned and declared ny fellowship as a funding source while submitting the paper?
This is a case where the conventions of the journal probably override any answer that we can provide. In general, I don’t see people acknowledging fellowships that were provided “for study” — for example fellowships that all graduate students in a department receive. Similarly fellowships that were awarded “for excellence” to attract a particular candidate to a university are often not acknowledged. On the other hand, fellowships that are “for research” or designed to further your research goals (even broadly) typically get acknowledged (in my field).
Regardless, it is okay to let this “grey area” slide for now and then ask the editor if you get a revision.
If you were paid by a fellowship, or your tuition was paid by a fellowship, while you worked on a paper, then yes the fellowship must be acknowledged in the paper.
You can skip the acknowledgement only if you did not use any fellowship resources in any way. If you do not include the acknowledgement, you take on a small risk of angering the funder and violating the journal's policies.