I am a working professional and I wish to try working on some research projects after 9-5 job. My average skills doesn't allow me to be a part of big research groups, however, I would still like to volunteer (little or no pay expected) and work with a research group for some time and experience what's it like, gain some exposure on how they are done and finally figure out if it's for me or not?

Goal is to gain some exposure by doing, just like people have summer internship during graduation or "On-job-training" during employment in provisional period.

Are there any open, public or community-driven research groups where I can get a feel for how research is done? How can I search groups like these?

I am looking for something in fields like IT, data, computer security etc.

  • 2
    Is your plan to work on the research project in your free time, after a normal 8-hour work day? Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 17:52
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    In which field? Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 18:20
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    When you say "volunteering", what kind of work are you talking about? Participating in the actual research?
    – user9646
    Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 18:52
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    You need to clarify your question further. What is the purpose of 'trying your luck' on research projects?
    – MHL
    Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 23:44
  • The purpose is to TRY and gain a little exposure in how research projects are done as I have never done any earlier, to be able to decide if they are for me or not. "Volunteering" means I expect little or no pay. It's mainly for testing my abilities to be able to work in research-based environment. Anything related to computer software field should do, as I do understand a little portion of it. Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 15:22

2 Answers 2


If you want to do it as a hobby you should look for "citizen science groups" near you or in your area of interest. See the Wiki article to get an idea.

Citizen science (also known as community science, crowd science, crowd-sourced science, civic science, volunteer monitoring or networked science) is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur (or nonprofessional) scientists.

If you want to participate in research at universities and research institutes I would just try to contact the group(s) there that work on the topics of you are interest in. I guess plenty of groups would be happy to have someone to do some research assistant work and for you it would be a possibility to get to know them and their work.

  • I am less optimistic than you regarding the chances to work as research assistant. At the places where I've worked, RA positions were tied to being enrolled as a student. Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 12:23
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    @henning OP stated to "volunteer" which I read as "no contract, no pay". Also (at least for my university in Germany) I can say that it is possible to give contracts to non-students, as we have someone like this employed.
    – asquared
    Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 12:33

I would guess that even if there are such groups, the research they conduct would not develop any sort of research skill.

The idea behind conducting research is to publish it (otherwise nobody will know what scientists have found). While publishing, scientists have to write the names of all contributors. And having your name on an article is sometimes more valuable than the money. Thus, it is not very likely that a research team, which is good enough for you to develop skills in case you help them, to accept that kind of contribution.

If they accept your help, they have to write your name. If they write your name, there will be a random co-author on the article they publish. This is not very prestigious.

You can promise that you will reject authorship, but then how can they know? They cannot prepare a contract that says you will not be a co-author.

All these considered, I would say that yes, you can find such groups, probably cannot help you develop your skills by working with them.

  • Why would it be a problem for OP to be co-author if he contributed? Prestige? What makes OP any different from any young student who joins the group? The also never published before, meaning they have no "prestigious" name.
    – asquared
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 11:44

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