Q: Is there any problem if the journal used my present affiliation information for the APCs although the work was done during my previous affiliation?

Detailed Question -

I had an article published last year. The work was done at my previous university, but I submitted the paper when studying at my present university. At the time of submission, the journal included my current affiliation along with my past affiliation based on my present university’s IP address although I had mentioned only the previous affiliation. It is an open access (OA) journal and my present university has the subscription for it. Now, when I asked one of the editors about the fees, he told me that it was free for me, being the first time. However, they used the present university’s information for the funding. Is there any problem with this?

1 Answer to this question

This is an intriguing scenario for a couple of reasons. One, it’s an interesting insight into the possible misgivings of auto-population of form information. (Similar to some of the annoyance caused by un-intuitive auto-correct.) Two, it’s great that you are seeking to be so diligent and ethical although you don’t really have much to lose here, apart from some possible standing with your previous university in case the status quo remains and they come to know of this. So, a hat tip here. :)

Coming to answer your query, a slight challenge begins with what you have mentioned at the very beginning: that the paper was published last year. Immediate questions that arise from this are: How long ago was the paper published, and why is this being brought up now rather than then? (Unless it wasn’t too long ago.)

As you are seeking to be conscientious and also wishing to address the anomaly, you will have to share this with all the relevant parties: the journal, your present university, and perhaps even your previous university. Your responsibility would probably end here. You could then leave it to them to resolve this in the manner they feel best. The APCs may not be much for a university (compared with what it means for a student). Also, both affiliations are mentioned in the paper, and we assume in the right sequence and weightage. So, all may decide to let the present situation be. This is a rare example of a good ethical situation to be in, and again, props to you for seeking to do the right thing.

Hope that addresses any feelings of concern. Hope also that you continue seeking to do the ethical good in the future as well!

Now, while you may probably not need this, it may interest you to explore these courses in ethics from a family site, R Upskill, which offers learning programs for a range of researcher needs, from authoring to submission to publication to promotion. For a limited period, the entire suite of courses is free to access (you may consider this our way of rewarding your earnestness), so do look it up!