(My field is pure mathematics)

EDIT: I asked this question as a form of thinking out loud. I've realised with the help of the commenters below that my inclinations were a bit stupid, but others in similar positions might find the discussion useful.

I have an honorary, 'visiting' affiliation with the university (in my city where I live) where I once had an academic position. I do not have a paid research position there, and the adjunct teaching positions I have had of late in the mathematics department there appear to have run out. I have library and building access, and am for most intents and purposes counted as staff, minus the actual job. I have continued steadily publishing papers in this position.

I am wondering what people would advise about listing my affiliation on papers. I have no complaints with the department, and they have been happy to renew my status, which is very nice. However, I would like to signal in some way that I am not in fact employed to do this research. The only way I can think of this is to stop listing myself as being 'at' the university in question, but this seems to me as ungrateful, or risking losing this affiliation.

I am also aware that the department gains from my producing research and listing it as having taken place there, without the actual full cost of employing me. This may lead to certain negative incentives, but this is pure supposition.

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    Do library privileges and building access come with any official title? At my university, you would be a "visiting scholar". So if I were in your situation, I could make my level of affiliation fairly clear by writing "Visiting Scholar, Mathematics Department, University of Michigan" in my publications. Could you do something analogous? Dec 17, 2016 at 5:42
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    " I would like to signal in some way that I am not in fact employed to do this research." Why? It's the contents of the papers that matters, not the pay of the authors. Dec 17, 2016 at 5:49
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    @AnonymousPhysicist one might like to signal that one is interested in jobs, or that the relative slowness of the release of that work is not due to laziness, or that one just doesn't have access to travel funds and so on. By the logic of your comment, one shouldn't need author names on papers, since it's not even the identity of the authors that matters, only the contents. Dec 17, 2016 at 6:26
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    David, in order to advise you about the pros and cons of listing or failing to list your affiliation in various ways, I think we need to better understand your motivation. What goal are you hoping to achieve by signaling that the affiliation is honorary? Your mention of negative incentives makes me suspect this is about signaling to the department your dissatisfaction with your unpaid status and hinting that they should upgrade it to a paid position, which (if true) sounds like a somewhat passive-aggressive, and in any case almost certainly ineffective, way of conveying that information.
    – Dan Romik
    Dec 17, 2016 at 7:45
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    @DavidRoberts Announcing you are unemployed will actually make it harder to find a job. Authors are listed to show who did the work. Affiliations are listed to show where the authors are located, not to suggest the affiliated institution contributed to the work. Dec 17, 2016 at 8:20

1 Answer 1


An honourary appointment at my university comes with an email address, library privileges, internet access and a hot desk. In exchange, we advise our honourary staff that we are happy for them to list their affiliation with us in two wways: (1) "Honourary Research Fellow" or (2) "Research Fellow (Honourary)". They are, of course, under no obligation to do so.

In the journals I help edit, affiliations listed as honourary or adjunct or visiting carries no stigma. We treat it like any other affiliation. However, because there is a cap in the number of affiliations authors can list (we allow no more than three), an honourary affiliations are included in those counts.

Good luck!

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