Author Topic: Independent Scholars Watering Hole  (Read 12493 times)

Ockhamist

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #50 on: December 16, 2020, 08:18:27 AM »
You don't need to publish solely in peer-reviewed journals nowadays to have an impact!

Firstly, there is arrive.org for publishing pre-prints. if you have something interesting, it often gets picked up by the research community very quickly. In fast moving fields like AI, this has become the primary means for getting your work noticed.

Secondly, there are people like Gwern Branwen who have made a career out of independently publishing articles on their own websites.

There are lots of cranks posting garbage but if you do have something interesting to say, you can get noticed.

Yes, very much agree about that.   And as AI becomes extensive, it will actually become easier to be noticed (since the AI's will be able to efficiently comb the entire web for anything interesting.)

Actually I think publishing in peer-reviewed journals is a pretty poor way to have an impact.   Those journals are not widely read at all.   It's the respectable way to publish, and it's what you put on your CV to get university tenure, but it's not really the way to have an impact on anybody.   

And of course there's plenty of garbage in peer-reviewed journals as well.  Of course there's Sokol's famous paper on "transformative hermeneutics of quantum gravity" as proof of that (https://physics.nyu.edu/sokal/transgress_v2/transgress_v2_singlefile.html) but there's plenty of other "peer-reviewed" unintentional garbage as well.   

Even some "peer-reviewed journals" are now nothing but pay to print scams.  I was actually solicited a couple of years ago to submit a paper for publication by the august "International Journal of Newfangled Methods in Mathematics and Computing Science."   For a modest fee, they were willing to "peer-review" and publish pretty much anything.   

Not even sure it would have had to be all that newfangled, but they might have charged extra to publish something oldtimey.

rab-bit

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #51 on: December 16, 2020, 10:33:17 AM »
You don't need to publish solely in peer-reviewed journals nowadays to have an impact!

Firstly, there is arrive.org for publishing pre-prints. if you have something interesting, it often gets picked up by the research community very quickly. In fast moving fields like AI, this has become the primary means for getting your work noticed.

Secondly, there are people like Gwern Branwen who have made a career out of independently publishing articles on their own websites.

There are lots of cranks posting garbage but if you do have something interesting to say, you can get noticed.

Yes, agreed. If my paper gets rejected (for whatever reason) then Plan B is just to post it to arXiv.org and/or ResearchGate and be done with it. After all, it's not like I have to publish it - I'm already tenured at FIRE!
« Last Edit: December 16, 2020, 10:54:43 AM by rab-bit »

rab-bit

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #52 on: December 16, 2020, 10:44:03 AM »
You don't need to publish solely in peer-reviewed journals nowadays to have an impact!

Firstly, there is arrive.org for publishing pre-prints. if you have something interesting, it often gets picked up by the research community very quickly. In fast moving fields like AI, this has become the primary means for getting your work noticed.

Secondly, there are people like Gwern Branwen who have made a career out of independently publishing articles on their own websites.

There are lots of cranks posting garbage but if you do have something interesting to say, you can get noticed.

Yes, very much agree about that.   And as AI becomes extensive, it will actually become easier to be noticed (since the AI's will be able to efficiently comb the entire web for anything interesting.)

Actually I think publishing in peer-reviewed journals is a pretty poor way to have an impact.   Those journals are not widely read at all.   It's the respectable way to publish, and it's what you put on your CV to get university tenure, but it's not really the way to have an impact on anybody.   

And of course there's plenty of garbage in peer-reviewed journals as well.  Of course there's Sokol's famous paper on "transformative hermeneutics of quantum gravity" as proof of that (https://physics.nyu.edu/sokal/transgress_v2/transgress_v2_singlefile.html) but there's plenty of other "peer-reviewed" unintentional garbage as well.   

Even some "peer-reviewed journals" are now nothing but pay to print scams.  I was actually solicited a couple of years ago to submit a paper for publication by the august "International Journal of Newfangled Methods in Mathematics and Computing Science."   For a modest fee, they were willing to "peer-review" and publish pretty much anything.   

Not even sure it would have had to be all that newfangled, but they might have charged extra to publish something oldtimey.

I would definitely not pay to publish anything, which is the reason why I submitted it to a traditional journal. Most of the newer open access journals (including the peer-reviewed ones) require a "publication charge" anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, so I did not consider them (since the $$ would have to come out of my own pocket). So it seems that after those options, posting to a site like arXiv.org or ResearchGate, or a personal website, are the next-best options.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2020, 11:12:13 AM by rab-bit »

lutorm

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #53 on: December 17, 2020, 12:26:03 PM »
I just submitted my first paper as an "independent scholar" to a peer-reviewed journal. On the actual paper I listed my affiliation as an "Independent Engineering Consultant", even though I have little intention of doing any real consulting work. Anyway, I'm curious to see how my listed affiliation plays with the editors and reviewers. I'll report back once I know more.
Why not pretend you're a sole proprietorship and register a dba as "The Rab-bit Mountain Research Institute" or something?

That would destroy all credibility to a peer-reviewed journal.   If you do not have an academic affiliation (a good four year college or university), or possibly an affiliation to a known think-tank or corporation, it's a challenge to be taken seriously.

Heck, even being affiliated with a community college gets sniffed at.  Not necessarily a deal killer, but it sure doesn't make it easier.   Same goes even moreso for an independent.   

It's harder.  But not impossible.   

But claiming a made-up affiliation like that will get you written off as a crackpot and/or BS artist reeeaaaaallll quick.
I disagree (although obviously the name can't be silly). I know several people who formed an "institute" to publish their astrophysics research. In this case the "institute" was necessary to get grants, which is how they make a living, but they're definitely not being written off as crackpots for having created (not made up) their own affiliation. Although I guess in this case they were helped by the fact that they all had published at academic institutions before.

I reviewed quite a few papers in my research career and I wouldn't have written off someone for not having a university as their affiliation. Would I even have gone and googled the affiliation? Probably not. You can pretty quickly tell whether the paper is a crackpot paper or not without using affiliation as a clue and besides, as people have said, having a respectable affiliation isn't insurance against crackpottiness...

Ockhamist

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #54 on: December 17, 2020, 02:43:17 PM »
I just submitted my first paper as an "independent scholar" to a peer-reviewed journal. On the actual paper I listed my affiliation as an "Independent Engineering Consultant", even though I have little intention of doing any real consulting work. Anyway, I'm curious to see how my listed affiliation plays with the editors and reviewers. I'll report back once I know more.
Why not pretend you're a sole proprietorship and register a dba as "The Rab-bit Mountain Research Institute" or something?

That would destroy all credibility to a peer-reviewed journal.   If you do not have an academic affiliation (a good four year college or university), or possibly an affiliation to a known think-tank or corporation, it's a challenge to be taken seriously.

Heck, even being affiliated with a community college gets sniffed at.  Not necessarily a deal killer, but it sure doesn't make it easier.   Same goes even moreso for an independent.   

It's harder.  But not impossible.   

But claiming a made-up affiliation like that will get you written off as a crackpot and/or BS artist reeeaaaaallll quick.
I disagree (although obviously the name can't be silly). I know several people who formed an "institute" to publish their astrophysics research. In this case the "institute" was necessary to get grants, which is how they make a living, but they're definitely not being written off as crackpots for having created (not made up) their own affiliation. Although I guess in this case they were helped by the fact that they all had published at academic institutions before.

I reviewed quite a few papers in my research career and I wouldn't have written off someone for not having a university as their affiliation. Would I even have gone and googled the affiliation? Probably not. You can pretty quickly tell whether the paper is a crackpot paper or not without using affiliation as a clue and besides, as people have said, having a respectable affiliation isn't insurance against crackpottiness...

The people you are talking about already had publication records.   Forming an institute because having such a structure is a requirement to apply for grants is one thing;  you're unlikely to be fooling or seen as trying to fool the granting agency.   Pretending to be an institute just to make yourself look publishable because you don't have a real affiliation or track record to fall back on is quite another.   

Maybe it makes no difference when you are the reviewer (in which case, props), but I can assure you that there are plenty of reviewers to whom affiliation makes quite a difference.   I'm not an astrophysicist but I have a hard time believing that in any field the journals give equal consideration to every submission, regardless of who the author is or where they are from.  They certainly don't do that in my field (mathematics.).   Name brand authors with name brand affiliations move to the top of the pile, while lesser known authors with lesser affiliations are going to drop farther down.   No reputation and no affiliation at all gets you lumped down in the slush pile with the community colleges, at best.

But if I'm wrong about this, if affiliation really makes no difference at all, then why even suggest inventing one in the first place? 

All that said, you're still much better off presenting yourself as an independent than as trying to pass yourself off as something you're not.   

For just one public and easily accessible example, Andrea Rossi's extensive publications in the "Journal of Nuclear Physics" sound pretty darn impressive, until you find out that that's just what he calls his blog.   Now, fair or unfair, Rossi has credibility problems for a lot of reasons, but this ain't helping him.  If you know nothing else about him, if all you know about him is that, doesn't just knowing that in and of itself give you an opinion about him?
« Last Edit: December 17, 2020, 05:49:59 PM by Ockhamist »

lutorm

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #55 on: December 17, 2020, 06:34:11 PM »
It might be true if you tried to publish in Nature, but at least in astrophysics I've never heard of the main topical journals having rejected an article out of hand, without review. Maybe they do reject anyone without an affiliation and I've just never heard of it (since I don't know of anyone unaffiliated who tried to publish who wasn't a crackpot) but I'd be surprised.

Now, what's the purpose then? To project some sort of organization and dedication. It's one thing to not care about someone's affiliation and another to see a complete lack of affiliation and not get a pre-biased opinion.  I don't think it's "passing yourself off as something you're not" any more than anyone else who creates a single-founder LLC for some side venture. If nothing else, it shows that you cared enough to do it (and make a website.)

I mean, if you're going to hire a contractor, would you not be positively predisposed to taking someone more seriously if they appear to be a legitimate venture rather than just someone who woke up one day and decided they wanted to do plumbing?

rab-bit

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #56 on: December 18, 2020, 08:32:27 AM »
I think I found a good alternative for my future paper submissions (if I choose to do any).

For many years I used a commercial software package for my work, at first when I worked for the company that published that software but also for other companies as a user. Since I don't have access to that software anymore and it's pretty expensive, I've started learning one of the open source alternatives for future work. The one that I'm learning is the oldest and most widely-used one and they have just started their own journal which is open access and has no publication charges. I think that could be a good way for me to publish my work - since it is from an open-source community, I feel that they will probably be more accepting of independent researchers.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2020, 08:36:07 AM by rab-bit »

lutorm

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #57 on: December 18, 2020, 11:44:11 AM »
I think I found a good alternative for my future paper submissions (if I choose to do any).

For many years I used a commercial software package for my work, at first when I worked for the company that published that software but also for other companies as a user. Since I don't have access to that software anymore and it's pretty expensive, I've started learning one of the open source alternatives for future work. The one that I'm learning is the oldest and most widely-used one and they have just started their own journal which is open access and has no publication charges. I think that could be a good way for me to publish my work - since it is from an open-source community, I feel that they will probably be more accepting of independent researchers.
I'm confused, are you talking about the software used for preparing the paper or for doing the research? Most journals I've come into contact with accept submissions in LaTeX, but it seems weird to me to have a paper dedicated to only publishing results obtained with a specific tool.

rab-bit

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #58 on: December 18, 2020, 11:54:14 AM »
I think I found a good alternative for my future paper submissions (if I choose to do any).

For many years I used a commercial software package for my work, at first when I worked for the company that published that software but also for other companies as a user. Since I don't have access to that software anymore and it's pretty expensive, I've started learning one of the open source alternatives for future work. The one that I'm learning is the oldest and most widely-used one and they have just started their own journal which is open access and has no publication charges. I think that could be a good way for me to publish my work - since it is from an open-source community, I feel that they will probably be more accepting of independent researchers.
I'm confused, are you talking about the software used for preparing the paper or for doing the research? Most journals I've come into contact with accept submissions in LaTeX, but it seems weird to me to have a paper dedicated to only publishing results obtained with a specific tool.

Sorry for the confusion. I was talking about the software used to do the research. It's a type of engineering simulation software. The papers submitted to this journal could be devoted to extensions to the software, or physical results obtained using the software, or some combination of those. I'm sure that the papers could also contain analytical or experimental results as well, or comparisons/validations using other similar software, but I assume that any paper that you would submit there would have to use that specific software in some way to be relevant to their journal. Since it's a brand new journal, my guess is that there will be some flexibility in what they accept as it finds its identity.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2020, 12:04:43 PM by rab-bit »

lutorm

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #59 on: December 18, 2020, 12:19:49 PM »
Sorry for the confusion. I was talking about the software used to do the research. It's a type of engineering simulation software. The papers submitted to this journal could be devoted to extensions to the software, or physical results obtained using the software, or some combination of those. I'm sure that the papers could also contain analytical or experimental results as well, or comparisons/validations using other similar software, but I assume that any paper that you would submit there would have to use that specific software in some way to be relevant to their journal. Since it's a brand new journal, my guess is that there will be some flexibility in what they accept as it finds its identity.
Ah, got it. It's not OpenFOAM, is it? ;-)

rab-bit

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #60 on: December 18, 2020, 12:50:48 PM »
Sorry for the confusion. I was talking about the software used to do the research. It's a type of engineering simulation software. The papers submitted to this journal could be devoted to extensions to the software, or physical results obtained using the software, or some combination of those. I'm sure that the papers could also contain analytical or experimental results as well, or comparisons/validations using other similar software, but I assume that any paper that you would submit there would have to use that specific software in some way to be relevant to their journal. Since it's a brand new journal, my guess is that there will be some flexibility in what they accept as it finds its identity.
Ah, got it. It's not OpenFOAM, is it? ;-)

;-)

lutorm

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #61 on: December 18, 2020, 01:11:30 PM »
;-)
Funny, I was just reading about different CFD packages the other day and was reminded that figuring out how to use OpenFOAM for some problems I've been interested in investigating was one of these things that "hopefully I'll have time for in FIRE"...

rab-bit

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #62 on: December 18, 2020, 01:36:21 PM »
;-)
Funny, I was just reading about different CFD packages the other day and was reminded that figuring out how to use OpenFOAM for some problems I've been interested in investigating was one of these things that "hopefully I'll have time for in FIRE"...

Feel free to PM me if you do decide to learn it and I'd be happy to point you to some of the better learning resources that I've found.

Ockhamist

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #63 on: December 18, 2020, 03:27:15 PM »
It might be true if you tried to publish in Nature, but at least in astrophysics I've never heard of the main topical journals having rejected an article out of hand, without review. Maybe they do reject anyone without an affiliation and I've just never heard of it (since I don't know of anyone unaffiliated who tried to publish who wasn't a crackpot) but I'd be surprised.

Now, what's the purpose then? To project some sort of organization and dedication. It's one thing to not care about someone's affiliation and another to see a complete lack of affiliation and not get a pre-biased opinion.  I don't think it's "passing yourself off as something you're not" any more than anyone else who creates a single-founder LLC for some side venture. If nothing else, it shows that you cared enough to do it (and make a website.)

I mean, if you're going to hire a contractor, would you not be positively predisposed to taking someone more seriously if they appear to be a legitimate venture rather than just someone who woke up one day and decided they wanted to do plumbing?

Make whatever arguments you want, I'm not really looking to argue.  However things should or should not work, they work like they do.   

I think you gave someone advice that will do them harm if they follow it.   They can however, decide for themselves.

lutorm

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #64 on: December 18, 2020, 03:37:20 PM »
Feel free to PM me if you do decide to learn it and I'd be happy to point you to some of the better learning resources that I've found.
Cool, thanks. It's pretty far down on my to-do list but hopefully I'll get to it at some point.

2sk22

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #65 on: December 19, 2020, 03:25:51 AM »
Cool, thanks. It's pretty far down on my to-do list but hopefully I'll get to it at some point.

Over the years I had built up a mile-long list of things I meant to look at "some day" and now that "some day" is here for me. Although computational fluid dynamics is not on that list :-)

My younger daughter however is interested in atmospheric sciences and may well wind up actually studying that.

spjulep

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #66 on: February 13, 2021, 01:30:04 AM »
I was happy to find this thread. I am less focused on publishing in journals (though of course that is an important way to contribute to the knowledge base) and more focused on applied research/field work. Basically, in my areas of interest, there is an enormous amount to explore and learn, and there are people and organizations eager to participate in the research, but not much funding to do so.

So far I am doing this through consulting. I have a notional budget and a reason to do the work, but I can spend way more time on it than someone who is chasing grants. But I'm not sure if this is a good idea in the long term. It's hard to partner with people who are working in the traditional model, and I feel limited to small-scale projects.

On the question on legitimacy, though people ask me what university I'm affiliated with, they seem to accept that I am working independently. I've also been lucky that my graduate school gives alumni decent access to journals for life. (By the way, I never got a PhD, for many reasons including the desire to work on more immediate/applied research, the need to make a living, and no interest in teaching or academic politics.)

I would love to hear from other people who are taking a similar approach.

Ockhamist

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #67 on: February 13, 2021, 07:30:12 AM »
I think publishing is really where the university affiliation matters the most.

For the sorts of activities you are talking about I agree that affiliation is not so important.

We have some similarities in what we are doing ... sending you a PM.

asauer

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #68 on: February 14, 2021, 11:07:57 AM »
I'm very fortunate to live near several universities.  Several of these offer a "library patron" membership.  North Carolina State University's library patron membership is $60/ year.  I get access to all online journals/ books etc, plus I can attend all lectures/ events at the library for free or low cost.  It's awesome.

rab-bit

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #69 on: March 01, 2021, 02:59:55 PM »
We live in an interesting ara where there seems to be quite a lot of ‘unaffiliated, uncredentialed’ individuals interfacing with traditional research scientists. 
A lot of them are life-long fishermen, hunters or guides that have a lifetime of direct observations but no education past college (and many of them not even that).  Broadly speaking they’ve been incorporated into various research groups because the scientists needed i) land/boat access, ii) their skill set (guide/captain) and/or iii) their clout with other stakeholders.

The last one is actually the most common IME - if you want to involve stakeholders (e.g. fishermen) the most surefire way of doing this is to get the alpha high-liner to be a part of your group.  Sometimes its just for a short project with minimal involvement, but I’ve witnessed quite a few evolve into long-term partnerships with NGOs, Universities etc. Interesting to watch some give the speeches starting with something like “well here I am among all you PhDs and I dropped out of college after my second year...”

I just submitted my first paper as an "independent scholar" to a peer-reviewed journal. On the actual paper I listed my affiliation as an "Independent Engineering Consultant", even though I have little intention of doing any real consulting work. Anyway, I'm curious to see how my listed affiliation plays with the editors and reviewers. I'll report back once I know more.

As a follow-up, my journal paper was accepted subject to some relatively minor revisions.

Ockhamist

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #70 on: March 01, 2021, 03:54:20 PM »
We live in an interesting ara where there seems to be quite a lot of ‘unaffiliated, uncredentialed’ individuals interfacing with traditional research scientists. 
A lot of them are life-long fishermen, hunters or guides that have a lifetime of direct observations but no education past college (and many of them not even that).  Broadly speaking they’ve been incorporated into various research groups because the scientists needed i) land/boat access, ii) their skill set (guide/captain) and/or iii) their clout with other stakeholders.

The last one is actually the most common IME - if you want to involve stakeholders (e.g. fishermen) the most surefire way of doing this is to get the alpha high-liner to be a part of your group.  Sometimes its just for a short project with minimal involvement, but I’ve witnessed quite a few evolve into long-term partnerships with NGOs, Universities etc. Interesting to watch some give the speeches starting with something like “well here I am among all you PhDs and I dropped out of college after my second year...”


I just submitted my first paper as an "independent scholar" to a peer-reviewed journal. On the actual paper I listed my affiliation as an "Independent Engineering Consultant", even though I have little intention of doing any real consulting work. Anyway, I'm curious to see how my listed affiliation plays with the editors and reviewers. I'll report back once I know more.

As a follow-up, my journal paper was accepted subject to some relatively minor revisions.

That's terrific news rab-bit.  Congratulations!
« Last Edit: March 02, 2021, 07:03:58 AM by Ockhamist »

BicycleB

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #71 on: March 01, 2021, 10:00:34 PM »
Congrats, @rab-bit

2sk22

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #72 on: March 02, 2021, 02:42:09 AM »

As a follow-up, my journal paper was accepted subject to some relatively minor revisions.

Congratulations! Your situation is likely to become a lot more common in the future as academic institutions cut staff.