What is the best way to find out a researcher's current affiliation? Let's say I know a name and a field, but not much more.

A google search seems like the most obvious approach, but unfortunately university personnel or research group pages often seem to be quite poorly maintained, and it is not uncommon that someone is listed even if they left more than a year ago.

Early-career researchers are particularly difficult to track down since they often have less of a "presence" on institution webpages and are likely to be moving relatively frequently.

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    Got an e-mail address for them? Because there's always asking them. – zibadawa timmy Aug 21 '17 at 10:11
  • @zibadawatimmy Yes, and if it's an institutional address one might not even need to ask! Let's assume not. – user2390246 Aug 21 '17 at 10:33
  • just a note: This gets way worse when the person you are searching for has a common name, like John Smith... or Fabio Dias :) – Fábio Dias Aug 21 '17 at 16:33
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    Google is not only for institutional pages! It often finds conference abstracts, LinkedIn pages etc which still can help contact the person. Often conference abstracts contain email addresses for the presenter, not only to the senior researchers/ supervisors as papers do. – Greg Aug 22 '17 at 5:08
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    Many professional society still have private membership directories if you belong to them. – Richard Erickson Aug 22 '17 at 14:45

If contact details of a specific student/postdoc are hard to find, contact details of the supervisor or group leader are likely much easier to find, and you can always politely ask him or her as to the whereabouts of the student/postdoc.

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This is the best solution that I came up with, but hoping that someone can suggest something more effective:

  1. Look up the researcher's profile on Google Scholar
  2. Sort publication list by year
  3. Look up the most recent paper in the list
  4. Obtain affiliation listed in that paper

This seems reasonably reliable, but depending on how prolific the author, it might miss a move in the last 6 months to 1 year, or even more. And it relies on the person having a Scholar profile.

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  • 5. Check said institution if he is still listed as a member. \\ 6. If it is a university, check if the person is currently giving lectures/seminars, etc. If yes, you can be rather certain that you found the right place. – Dirk Aug 21 '17 at 9:36
  • @DirkLiebhold Good tips. But I don't expect this will cover all cases: in particular, early-career researchers are unlikely to have teaching duties (at least in the UK where I am based), and are likely to be moving institutions fairly frequently. (Also, I know it's probably just a translation issue, but note that researchers can be female ;) – user2390246 Aug 21 '17 at 9:56

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