In the following situation: I made research about some topic X in the field of Computer Engineering, submitted a paper and it got accepted. Actually it was an independent research that I have done while working as an information technology lecturer. Now the institution in which I am working does not want to give any financial support for the publishing of this research, what it would be the most ethical thing to do?

  • Put into my academic affiliation the place that I am working as a lecturer? that will count as a publication for their Faculty, but I believe that is not fair that they do not even try to pay for any expenses.
  • Put in my academic affiliation that I am an independent researcher, would that be advisable? maybe some academics would believe that I am not serious enough.

I believe that once I read some cases of people submitting papers as independent researchers, there were not so many, but those cases were real. For me I believe there is not so much difference, because what it matters is what is inside the article.

Any advice?


  • How is this different from your previous question on this subject?
    – ff524
    May 12, 2014 at 3:40
  • I have edited your title to more specifically state your question as I understand it. If I haven't got it right, please feel free to edit. May 12, 2014 at 6:17

2 Answers 2


I'm not sure that I see an ethical issue here. Ethically, I think you are free to omit your affiliation if you so choose.

But I don't see any benefit to you by doing so. It may be a symbolic jab at your institution for not funding you, but it's not going to directly hurt them in any way: nobody is going to notice except you and them. On the other hand, it certainly can directly hurt you and your relationship with your institution. As just one example, they might decline to consider that publication as part of your research record when they evaluate you (e.g. for tenure). Or, more seriously, they might decide that if you don't want to be associated with them, they don't want to be associated with you; and therefore stop employing you (if your contract permits it).

Clearly you have some issues with your employer, and I hope you are able to improve matters somehow. But what you suggest seems at best ineffective and at worst self-destructive.

  • 2
    It can be a more than just symbolic jab, I'd say. If the place's funding is at least partly based on their publications, and it doesn't count as their publication without the affiliation, it'll be a jab (a small one) for real. May 12, 2014 at 15:00
  • 1
    Assuming you are paid full time as a lecturer and your terms of employment cover research as well as lecturing (traditional balanced role), then that is support for your research and must be acknowledged unless your employer agrees otherwise. Jan 21, 2016 at 12:54

Ethically you should put ALL the affiliations that contributed to the work. This included contributing to ANY of your expenses, living costs, research costs, travel costs, laboratory infrastructure, computer equipment, etc. used for the research.

If you are not paid by ANYONE to do (teaching and) research in the area of your paper, did not make use of ANY facilities or equipment not owned by you, did not do ANY work or thinking on an employer's time (think intellectual property) then you can say it is independent research, otherwise the affiliation of the supporter must be acknowledged. The primary source of support should be the primary affiliation. Depending on the publication venue you can provide additional affiliations or acknowledge other support in footnotes or acknowledgements. Funding for publication (from you or an organisation) can be mentioned in the acknowledgements like any other funding, and all funding really should be acknowledge unless the funder wishes otherwise. If you are affiliated with the funder (e.g. for self-funding through your consultancy) then this can go as an additional affiliation. This sharing of affiliation also makes clear that your university did not pay for everything needed.

I have never put "independent researcher" but have always put a relevant business/company name in some cases where support was officially declined for the project and/or I was between jobs or consulting. Putting "independent researcher" conveys the impression that this work is so unimportant that nobody would pay for it. As a consultant or employee, anything not actually covered by your contract and payment can be regarded as your intellectual property and independent research.

If you are an "independent researcher" then you have obtain your funding yourself, you support yourself, and are not receiving a salary to undertake research in the area of the paper, and you should thus regard yourself as a business and set things up as a business. You can register a business name or a partnership (e.g. with your wife) or incorporate a company, and use this name. Depending on where you are (legal residence/place of business) partnerships relating to your actual names may not need to be formally registered.

I am frequently in a position where I am a visiting professor somewhere and put both my substantive position and my visiting affiliation in an order that relates to where the bulk of the research and/or writing was done. But you really need to be able to justify this.

To make a closely related point based on the same ethical principals (often enshrined in a code of ethics by university, funding bodies, professional associations and/or journals): If you did any work on the paper or the underlying research at a university, you need to list the affiliation. If anyone else contributed in any way to the intellectual content or written form, this needs to be acknowledged, and if they contributed to both then they need to be an author, unless they specifically request otherwise.

Incidentally just providing funding (cash) or services (reviewing, technical assistance) doesn't require an affiliation or authorship byline, but should be included in the acknowledgements. On the other hand, provision of technical services or reviewing assistance that went beyond the call of duty and actually changed the direction of the project or lead to new conclusions (i.e. provided intellectual input and created intellectual property) does require the authorship and affiliation byline rather than just acknowledgement.

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