There have been many questions in the past about choosing an affiliation to write on your papers. This one has a nuance that is a bit different from having two jobs.

I am currently between two jobs (PhD student and postdoc) and currently not academically affiliated to either. I am currently writing a paper and I am trying to figure out if I put my PhD affiliation or my postdoc affiliation.

The reason for the PhD affiliation is because a lot of the work was done there.

The reason for the postdoc affiliation is because then anyone could contact me for correspondence with respect to the paper.

I feel there must be a hard and fast rule to this, so I was hoping someone could enlighten me.


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    A naive question: would it be possible to list both affiliations? I've seen that happen - it seems to depend on the journal's format. Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 18:53
  • I would be okay with that answer! Just how would you format it?
    – T K
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 18:59
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    That would depend on the journal. Many use superscripts, e.g., here - the last author has three different affiliations. I'd recommend just putting both affiliations in your manuscript and letting the typesetter at the journal worry about it. If multiple affiliations are a problem, you will be told and can always delete the Ph.D. one (and acknowledge it as per @just-learning's suggestion). Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 19:04
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    BTW: in that example I just linked to, the situation was exactly yours: most of the work done at institutions a and e, manuscript submitted, revised and published at institution f. Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 19:07
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    A number of major physics journal allow authors to be listed with both an affiliation (where you were when you did the work that resulted in the paper) and a "present address". Commented Jun 21, 2014 at 14:35

3 Answers 3


It should be possible to list both affiliations. While I have not worried about this myself, I do remember going to a seminar at UPenn in the summer between my PhD and my postdoc. My introduction included both affiliations. I was a little surprised (and pleased) by that and kept an ear out for it afterwards: it is a reasonably common thing to do.

Why do you list affiliations at all? Here are some reasons.

1) It gives readers a chance to contact you.
2) Some employers require or request that you mention them. If they are providing you with financial support, this seems reasonable. (Especially if you signed a contract saying you will!)
3) You give yourself a veneer of legitimacy/prestige that can (unfortunately) help your submission get taken more seriously. Often by doing this you telegraph to insiders who your famous thesis advisor is, which could (unfortunately) get you more alacrity and respect in the processing of your paper.

To address these: I think 1) is almost obsolete. If you are an untenured academic, you should have a webpage. Then anyone who reads one of your papers types "T....K.... math" into google, and presto, they can contact you. By the way, if you are transitioning from one temporary job to another, then neither affiliation is going to be very useful in the long term. I have papers which tell readers that they can reach me at "Montreal" and "MSRI": the latter might have been true for a month or two, but no longer.

2) is serious of course, but if you are between affiliations you are probably not being financially supported by either one. It may be though that you are just putting the finishing touches on work that you did at the first institution. That's a good reason to list the first institution. The fact that it doesn't make much sense to list an institution that you are no longer affiliated with instead of an institution that you are currently affiliated with is then a good reason to try to list the second institution as well.

3) Well, what's more prestigious than any one academic institution? The answer seems obvious...

Let me briefly respond to something written by @adipro:

If you put your postdoc affiliation, it would give the wrong impression that the paper is a product of your postdoc, and your postdoc affiliation, rather than your PhD affiliation, wrongly gets the credit.

The OP is a mathematician, and math papers are not products of their institutions. Listing an institutional affiliation means exactly that: you have (or had, during part of the period when the work was done or the paper was written) an affiliation with that institution. (It doesn't even necessarily mean that you had financial support from them, although that is usually the case.) None of the institutions at which I was a postdoc can or do claim any ownership or credit for any of the papers I wrote while I was there. They get to record for all time that they had the good judgment to hire someone who went on to a tenure-track job, which one of them does.

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    I think choosing which affiliation to put because of (3) is something to be discouraged. And 'wrongly gets the credit' is related to this.
    – adipro
    Commented Jun 21, 2014 at 6:12
  • Of course no institutions can claim ownership or credit for any papers we wrote. But the sad fact is that people look at the affiliation and it influences their judgement.
    – adipro
    Commented Jun 21, 2014 at 6:24
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    I've always thought of affiliations as an offer of thanks/credit to the institutions, as a benefit to the institutions, rather than a mark of tribal membership, as a benefit to the authors.
    – JeffE
    Commented Jun 21, 2014 at 11:50
  • @JeffE: Have you ever worked with an unaffiliated researcher? I wrote papers with several recently, and they explained to me that lack of institutional affiliation can cause problems in the processing of their work. There is a certain amount of tribalism in contemporary academia. I don't endorse it, but since it is there it seems best to acknowledge it. Commented Jun 21, 2014 at 18:43
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    @adipro: One thing that I wish academics would do more often is: when there is a chance that someone might get the wrong idea, just give everyone the right idea by providing more information. If you feel like someone might draw the wrong conclusion about where the work was done, spell it out in the paper itself. Commented Jun 21, 2014 at 18:57

I suggest using the postdoc affiliation (precisely for the reason you mention and also because you will probably still be there while the paper will be reviewed) and thanking for support the university where you did your Ph.D. in the acknowledgments.


I would say that the affiliation should be the place where you did most of the work that leads to the paper. When I read a paper, I immediately assume that the work presented in the paper was carried out when the author was affiliated with the affiliation listed there. In your case, it would be your PhD affiliation. If you put your postdoc affiliation, it would give the wrong impression that the paper is a product of your postdoc, and your postdoc affiliation, rather than your PhD affiliation, wrongly gets the credit.

Getting a paper published takes time. By the time it gets accepted, you might have started your postdoc. Then you should also include your postdoc affiliation for correspondence purposes.

See, for example, this guide to authors from Nature Communications, where it says,

The primary affiliation for each author should be the institution where the majority of their work was done. If an author has subsequently moved, the current address may also be stated.

Also see this guide for authors from an Elsevier journal, which seems to be the standard across Elsevier journals, where it says,

If an author has moved since the work described in the article was done, or was visiting at the time, a 'Present address' (or 'Permanent address') may be indicated as a footnote to that author's name. The address at which the author actually did the work must be retained as the main, affiliation address.

  • Good inclusion of the publishers guidelines.
    – Minnow
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 14:52

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