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Here is the case: An author has made substantial contribution while not been related to any institutional or professional affiliation.

The question I sent to Nature:

An author has made substantial contribution while not been related
to any institutional or professional  affiliation.

Is it okay for this author to include his personal email and postal
address as his affiliation in the manuscript?

Nature answer:

Thank you for your email. At this stage, please just include the author and mention this in your cover letter so that the editor is aware of the situation.

The question I sent to PLOS ONE:

According to your submission guidelines "Each author on the list 
must have an affiliation". However an author has made substantial     
contribution while not been related to any institutional or
professional affiliation.

Is it okay to include "Independent Researcher" as an afilliation
in this case?

If not, what is the recommended Affiliation for this Author?

PLOS ONE answer:

Thank you for getting in touch and for your interest in submitting your work to PLOS ONE.

Your suggestion of recording the author as an "Independent Researcher" for their affiliation is acceptable. May I ask you to clarify in the cover letter if this co-author is self employed (i.e. charges for their advise/service) when submitting your work.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us again.

Any thoughts and previous experience with something like this is greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

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    Thanks, the "Independent Researcher" is quite reasonable indeed.
    – Luciano
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 17:43
  • For what it's worth, you might look at the the Ronin institute which aims to promote--and in some cases, offer an affiliation to--researchers in this position.
    – Corvus
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 18:12
  • This Ronin institute is interesting.. it really might be an indication that individual research is getting more frequent. Perhaps CrossRef could use this and try to implement yet another solution for the scholar issues of this era.. It's is funny how history repeats itself for independent research was actually how it all started thousands of years ago!
    – Luciano
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 12:36

1 Answer 1

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This is an unusual situation, but when it arises giving your personal address as the "affiliation" is an acceptable approach. (Whether you will get a different reaction from journals and reviewers after doing so is another question...). Note that many journals still refer to this field as the "address" rather than "affiliation", which answers the question for you ;-)

I've seen personal addresses used in papers several times in various fields; most frequently in avian ecology, a field with a strong tradition of independent local researchers. However, it crops up in various places to a smaller degree.

In some cases, I know it's a retired academic continuing to publish (without an "emeritus" status) while in others it's almost certainly "spare time"-type research. I can't speak to how common it is outside the sciences, but I've seen a number of history papers with what are almost certainly personal addresses on them, so it's certainly a known practice there.

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  • I have seen personal email addresses used on several math papers, even when the author has an academic affiliation.
    – Kimball
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 5:42
  • I'm a bit surprised someone would put their personal address on a paper which anyone can download and read. At my institute there were occasionally talks from independent researchers and they would just put Independent Researcher as their affiliation.
    – Tom
    Commented Apr 27 at 13:05

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