Academics, can be purely personal ambition with no need of recognicion. If you want recognicion, it's called 'Publish or Perish". An affiliated institution will pay the fees (academic journals are rarely self supporting). However, in science where I was, the institution did not have to be colle or university. Many government labs (NASA, NOAA, NIST, and others) and some research institutions had staff that qualified as 'academics'. We weren't graded on normal 'civil service' requirements, the requirements were adopted from levels for professorships at major universities. (GS16- professor emeritus, 15-full rofessor, 14-assistant professor, 13-associate professor) About 2/3 of my collaborators were other government/ research instutions staff members (Russia, Czechoslovakia, France, Japan, India, +). The rest were done with university professors.
Remember it'sPublish or Perish", and it's got to be good to get it past the journal editor and his peer reviewers, and he will get the experts in the field (no mater where they are) to review it. You are also honor bound to review something if you are asked to, or have a very good excuse (like you just died), or can suggest someone better than you to do it.