Author Topic: Independent Scholars Watering Hole  (Read 3383 times)

smoghat

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Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« on: February 07, 2019, 06:26:39 AM »
One option for a productive life after early retirement is independent scholarship. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Let's share resources and experiences!

One big issue is that in the last twenty years it's become both easier and harder to access scholarly literature. Easier because you can access so much literature online now. Harder because big companies charge big bucks to control access to journals and other online data.

Two big sources are EBSCOhost and JSTOR. My library now has access to at least some EBSCOhost resources. Meanwhile, JSTOR is available to alumni of one of my schools.
 
There are also more questionable sources that have been developed by scholars in developing countries who don't have access to the walled garden,  e.g. library genesis and sci-hub as well as aaaaarg (ok not on the same model, but close), monoskop log, and library.memoryoftheworld.org to name a few.

But there are other issues too, independent scholars are seen as peculiar individuals who either are rich (not good to say among Leftie academics!) or couldn't cut it in the academy. It's harder to get things done outside of the institution and so on. Your thoughts!!! 

nereo

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2019, 06:51:55 AM »
access to journals is not a problem limiteed to independent scholars - the subscription fees for the big publishers like Elsiver are so high that it's a major expense for all but the larger universities, not to mention the sheer number of niche journals.

Those of us at smaller labs or less-endowed colleges have to rely on the P2P sharing of ResearchGate or Sci-Hub, and/or beg and borrow articles from friends with better access.

One reason why I fully support open-access journals.  Unforutnately publication fees for many can be $1k+ if you wish to publish open-access.


smoghat

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2019, 07:25:26 AM »
Yes! You are absolutely right! 

I've taught at both and it's insane. What the Ivies and MIT have compared to a place like Art Center, OMG! Meanwhile, yes, Open Access has become another profit center.

Maybe a radical underground online journal needs to emerge?

Here's an up side! I once spoke with a friend who wrote for Cabinet and he said "They pay well." I said, what on Earth do you mean, they don't pay anything. He said, yes they do, just to journalists not to academics. :0 

access to journals is not a problem limited to independent scholars

Those of us at smaller labs or less-endowed colleges have to rely on the P2P sharing of ResearchGate or Sci-Hub, and/or beg and borrow articles from friends with better access.

One reason why I fully support open-access journals.  Unforutnately publication fees for many can be $1k+ if you wish to publish open-access.

nereo

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2019, 07:54:27 AM »

smoghat

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2019, 07:59:51 AM »
Just in time for this forum …

I feel liberated! I had agreed to write an article for a Routledge reader last fall.

I hate Routledge publications as a whole (many are too expensive, almost all the rest are shoddy and tempt me in only to disappoint).  I missed the part about providing an abstract in December.

My fault, yes, but the article is due in April and how would I write a 250 word abstract if I hadn't written the article yet? And why would I write it now instead of April? It's not like I have a lot of other things to do.

I had some general ideas and I know that in couple of weeks of work I could have done something good. But I don't operate on their deadlines… They asked me to send the abstract a couple of times and the tone was getting insistent. I'm sure they needed that abstract NOW but they needed my name in the project more than they needed that abstract. 

So I just bowed out of it. I don't need this.

flyingaway

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2019, 09:43:33 AM »
These days, accessing to scientific papers is not a problem, you can google for a PDF copy or ask the author(s) to e-mail you a copy, for free.
Publishing scientific papers becomes very expensive. Free publishing becomes very rare.
For an independent scholar, I guess you don't care about the formal publication. You can just "publish" it online for free.

nereo

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2019, 10:32:25 AM »
These days, accessing to scientific papers is not a problem, you can google for a PDF copy or ask the author(s) to e-mail you a copy, for free.
Publishing scientific papers becomes very expensive. Free publishing becomes very rare.
For an independent scholar, I guess you don't care about the formal publication. You can just "publish" it online for free.

It's still a problem if oyu don't want to run afoul of copyright laws, and/or if your institution has guidelines preventing such activity. We cannot have PDFs of our articles on our web page, nor can we make them available on platforms such as ResearchGate.


smoghat

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2019, 03:59:53 PM »
Which is why I say fuck 'em and go to scihub, library genesis, aaaarg (or whatever it is called now), and library.memoryoftheworld.org (plus monoskop log). I'm sick of the fucking abuse. Had some lady who I didn't realize worked at Elsevier over a while back. When she said where she worked, my jaw nearly hit the ground. She actually said, seriously, we aren't all evil. I didn't press it. About as insane to meet someone who works for a place like that as it was to meet a guy who said "Oh you won't know the Internet company I work for." "Oh ya, try me." "Outbrain." :0
« Last Edit: February 18, 2019, 04:01:27 PM by smoghat »

nereo

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2019, 04:05:18 PM »
What did your friend do at Elsevier?  I'm particularly annoyed by them, as they threatened legal action against a friend of mine who was 'caught' distributing his own papers to people he knew who happened to be foreigners. Cause they're all about the 'advancement of knowledge".... eh?

smoghat

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2019, 03:50:40 PM »
I'm not sure what they did. To call them a friend is overstating it. I doubt I'd recognize them on the street. I knew their spouse, but not them. I drank a lot that night to erase any need of conversation.

Trede

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2019, 08:53:39 AM »
Just sharing a link because I don't think I see DeepDyve mentioned for scientific literature access in this thread yet.  I work in a corporate R&D environment and have found their service very valuable vs. the subscription rate: https://www.deepdyve.com/ 

seattleite

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2019, 04:37:52 PM »
Funny you mention this as I have been calling myself a Gentleman Scientist since I FIREd. :-)

I like looking back to what might be called the golden age of amateur science, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Of course it was mostly done by those who were independently wealthy. Well, I guess is us, right?

The cool thing is that it doesn't cost a lot to do a lot of this science. I'm sure there are fields that require lots of capital but you'd be surprised what you can do these days without much. Journal access sucks though. My University doesn't provide access to alumni, so I have to do a lot of searching through the web.

I have a degree in CS and since FIREing I've been going through a EE/CE curriculum and somewhat feel like I'm getting a second degree, without the piece of paper at the end of course. Agronomy and the relationship between automated small-scale farming and capturing and sequestering carbon is particularly interesting to me. I'm working on doing small-scale experiments with energy inputs -> carbon and food capture.

What's so exciting to me about FIRE is that we can work on whatever we want and don't have to worry about publishing so many times a year or worrying about losing our grants. The more people who do this, the greater progress we will make to solving our biggest problems. Honestly, more people need to talk about this aspect of FIRE. Thank you for bringing it up.



BicycleB

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2019, 10:55:14 PM »
^Yay!

2sk22

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2019, 05:27:16 PM »
I am so happy to have stumbled into this topic. I am in a strange position - I have one of the earliest PhDs in machine learning with neural networks  (graduated in 1992!). My journal papers even have several hundred citations. The real problem for me was to have entered the AI field a bit too early. Back in 1992, I used to get blank looks when I told people that I worked in neural networks. Since I am flexible, I had no problem finding jobs in other areas within computer science and was always very well paid but I've been hankering to get back into AI full time ever since.  I have a mountain of books and papers in math, AI and cognitive science that I want to study very badly.

For the last couple of years, I have been struggling through an increasingly boring software job that has become very unrewarding. And I only recently discovered the term FIRE - it had somehow never dawned on me that I could just quit and spend my time studying and writing papers. Financially, I am already comfortably positioned - way beyond what I need to retire but I need to ease my wife into accepting this. I have made good progress and ought to be ready to jump ship by next early next year. In fact, the knowledge that the end is in sight has really given me hope and improved my spirits.

nereo

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2019, 05:49:36 PM »
GLad to have you here, @2sk22.  I have to admit that I didn't even know what machine learning was until several years ago - certainly much, much later than 1992.
Pretty cool that you can legitimately consider yourself an early pioneer in the field :-)

marble_faun

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2019, 07:30:46 PM »
Another resource for independent scholars would be any universities in your local area.  Often you can get community access (sometimes for a small fee), which allows you to use databases from guest computers at the library.  (They typically don't grant remote access as far as I can tell.)  You can also check out academic books and take a look at the actual bound journals on the shelf.

lhamo

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2019, 07:44:40 PM »
I am so happy to have stumbled into this topic. I am in a strange position - I have one of the earliest PhDs in machine learning with neural networks  (graduated in 1992!). My journal papers even have several hundred citations. The real problem for me was to have entered the AI field a bit too early. Back in 1992, I used to get blank looks when I told people that I worked in neural networks. Since I am flexible, I had no problem finding jobs in other areas within computer science and was always very well paid but I've been hankering to get back into AI full time ever since.  I have a mountain of books and papers in math, AI and cognitive science that I want to study very badly.

For the last couple of years, I have been struggling through an increasingly boring software job that has become very unrewarding. And I only recently discovered the term FIRE - it had somehow never dawned on me that I could just quit and spend my time studying and writing papers. Financially, I am already comfortably positioned - way beyond what I need to retire but I need to ease my wife into accepting this. I have made good progress and ought to be ready to jump ship by next early next year. In fact, the knowledge that the end is in sight has really given me hope and improved my spirits.

If you have any interest at all in teaching you might try approaching your local universities to see about adjuncting or lecturing in their CS departments.  Here in Seattle, the UW seems to be having a hard time recruiting full-time professors -- many (if not most) of the new hires are PT with second jobs in industry.  I guess that is better than not having anyone to hire at all.  But the classes still need to get taught, and with half time appointments there are only so many grad students they can take on....

Adjuncting sucks if it is something you have to do while trying to get a TT position, but can be pretty fun for someone who is FIREd and doesn't really need the money.

2sk22

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2019, 01:29:22 AM »

If you have any interest at all in teaching you might try approaching your local universities to see about adjuncting or lecturing in their CS departments.  Here in Seattle, the UW seems to be having a hard time recruiting full-time professors -- many (if not most) of the new hires are PT with second jobs in industry.  I guess that is better than not having anyone to hire at all.  But the classes still need to get taught, and with half time appointments there are only so many grad students they can take on....

Adjuncting sucks if it is something you have to do while trying to get a TT position, but can be pretty fun for someone who is FIREd and doesn't really need the money.

This is a fantastic idea - hadn't even occurred to me. I think will start by contacting my local community college to see if they could do with an extra instructor. I live just outside New York City so there are a lot of colleges in my area. I was a teaching assistant when I was a grad student and taught introductory programming. I really enjoyed that and used to get good reviews from my students.

2sk22

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2019, 01:45:59 AM »
GLad to have you here, @2sk22.  I have to admit that I didn't even know what machine learning was until several years ago - certainly much, much later than 1992.
Pretty cool that you can legitimately consider yourself an early pioneer in the field :-)

Many thanks for the kind welcome. I more or less stumbled into machine learning back in 1990. I was getting a bit desperate looking for a topic for my dissertation. My PhD advisor was actually a statistician who suggested the topic to me at a department reception. He used to joke that if he called his work "statistics" he got no funding but if he called it "machine learning", funding agencies would throw money at him. The field was just beginning to take off and there were lots of low hanging fruit. My advisor had just been given some funding and needed a student. It took just 18 months until I defended my dissertation.

nereo

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #19 on: May 08, 2019, 04:55:40 AM »

If you have any interest at all in teaching you might try approaching your local universities to see about adjuncting or lecturing in their CS departments.  Here in Seattle, the UW seems to be having a hard time recruiting full-time professors -- many (if not most) of the new hires are PT with second jobs in industry.  I guess that is better than not having anyone to hire at all.  But the classes still need to get taught, and with half time appointments there are only so many grad students they can take on....

Adjuncting sucks if it is something you have to do while trying to get a TT position, but can be pretty fun for someone who is FIREd and doesn't really need the money.

This is a fantastic idea - hadn't even occurred to me. I think will start by contacting my local community college to see if they could do with an extra instructor. I live just outside New York City so there are a lot of colleges in my area. I was a teaching assistant when I was a grad student and taught introductory programming. I really enjoyed that and used to get good reviews from my students.

THis is actually pretty similar to what our own plans are... thanks to frugal living and early saving we should be pretty close to FI in 3-5 more years, but we don't want to leave academia entirely.  At the same time we dont really want to make the extreme committment to go down the tenure-track path, with 60+ hour work weeks for the next 6-7 years. Adjunct/Instructor positions are easy to come by but pay crap.... but since money isn't the primary concern it can provide intellectual stimulation, reasonable hours/flexibility (e.g. semesters off) and benefits. 

RetiredAt63

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #20 on: May 08, 2019, 05:46:00 PM »

THis is actually pretty similar to what our own plans are... thanks to frugal living and early saving we should be pretty close to FI in 3-5 more years, but we don't want to leave academia entirely.  At the same time we dont really want to make the extreme committment to go down the tenure-track path, with 60+ hour work weeks for the next 6-7 years. Adjunct/Instructor positions are easy to come by but pay crap.... but since money isn't the primary concern it can provide intellectual stimulation, reasonable hours/flexibility (e.g. semesters off) and benefits.

They may not pay as well as tenure track but they still pay OK - or at least my last 3 years were my top 3 years, and I was an Instructor.  Of course I also went from Quebec to Ontario (i.e. from super low academic salaries to not too bad salaries).  Not sure how easy they are to get, I found out later there were over 50 applicants for my position.

FIKristen

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #21 on: September 11, 2019, 08:09:37 PM »
But there are other issues too, independent scholars are seen as peculiar individuals who either are rich (not good to say among Leftie academics!) or couldn't cut it in the academy. It's harder to get things done outside of the institution and so on. Your thoughts!!!

Just throwing out an idea here...how about starting a think-tank?

To join, you must be (A) financially independent, (B) committed to the scientific method / peer review, (C) responsible for your own work.

The think-tank provides an "Institutional" affiliation, but the rest is up to you.

Bird In Hand

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #22 on: September 12, 2019, 06:19:37 AM »
...but since money isn't the primary concern it can provide intellectual stimulation, reasonable hours/flexibility (e.g. semesters off) and benefits.

@nereo: when you get to this point, just make sure the benefits part is real.  In addition to relatively low pay, some adjunct positions don't come with benefits, or are only benefits-eligible with a relatively large # of hours/week (e.g., 30).

nereo

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #23 on: September 12, 2019, 08:58:56 AM »
...but since money isn't the primary concern it can provide intellectual stimulation, reasonable hours/flexibility (e.g. semesters off) and benefits.

@nereo: when you get to this point, just make sure the benefits part is real.  In addition to relatively low pay, some adjunct positions don't come with benefits, or are only benefits-eligible with a relatively large # of hours/week (e.g., 30).
Good tip.  it really does seem to vary from institution to institution.  Currently I'm at a state U that offers its adjuncts nothing in benefits or support.  Our plan/dream is to port over to one of the smaller, well endowed colleges nearby that do offer benefits to adjuncts.

Reader

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #24 on: September 13, 2019, 05:46:29 AM »
one more resource of interest, esp for those with an interest in computer science :
https://arxiv.org/

2sk22

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #25 on: September 13, 2019, 06:42:50 AM »
one more resource of interest, esp for those with an interest in computer science :
https://arxiv.org/

Yes that's a great resource and using Google Scholar you can frequently find PDFs of many papers.

However, some important resources like JSTOR are only partially available for independent scholars (see https://support.jstor.org/hc/en-us/articles/115004760028-MyJSTOR-How-to-Register-Get-Free-Access-to-Content for example)

I recently bought a yearly subscription to O'Reilly https://www.oreilly.com - its a great value at $400. A great collection of the more practical material.

A quick update on my sabbatical - I quit my megacorp job in July and took a couple of months off before joining a startup earlier this month so I got a taste of what it feels like to be an independent scholar. I have to say it was great and I can't wait for next year when it will become my permanent state!

I was able to get through a big backlog of books and papers that had been piling up. The highlight was being able to read most of the way through Incomplete Nature by Terrence W. Deacon. What a fantastic book! It is very dense but rewarding - this is exactly the kind of book that only someone with a lot of free time on their hands could even try to read.

Mornings were typically spent in reading. In the afternoons, I typically would run experiments in machine learning on my virtual machine cluster in the cloud. All in all, very enjoyable.

nereo

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #26 on: September 13, 2019, 01:55:13 PM »

However, some important resources like JSTOR are only partially available for independent scholars (see https://support.jstor.org/hc/en-us/articles/115004760028-MyJSTOR-How-to-Register-Get-Free-Access-to-Content for example)

I recently bought a yearly subscription to O'Reilly https://www.oreilly.com - its a great value at $400. A great collection of the more practical material.


I'm just going to toss this out here:  Sci Hub.

Google "where is SciHub now"

That is all.

2sk22

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #27 on: September 13, 2019, 04:12:49 PM »
I'm just going to toss this out here:  Sci Hub.

Google "where is SciHub now"

That is all.

Ah yes, that's the one started by a Russian academic. Its not 100% reliable so I use that only it when Google Scholar can't find me what I want.

smoghat

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Re: Independent Scholars Watering Hole
« Reply #28 on: September 22, 2019, 08:50:16 AM »

Just throwing out an idea here...how about starting a think-tank?

To join, you must be (A) financially independent, (B) committed to the scientific method / peer review, (C) responsible for your own work.

The think-tank provides an "Institutional" affiliation, but the rest is up to you.

That is a cool idea!

I could imagine the following permutation:

(A) becomes unaffiliated with a university or other research/teaching entity and then calling it an Unaffiliated Scholars Movement. After all, universities do have very real conflicts of interest and faculty subconsciously and consciously play to those.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2019, 08:57:21 AM by smoghat »