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I am interested in a new fast moving field in which none of the professors at my university have an interest. I have even started to work on some areas that show promise in the current scenario.

As I am working independently, and this will be my first paper, do I have a reasonable chance of getting it published (assuming it turns out well)?

What mistakes should I absolutely avoid while working on this paper? (to maximize chances of publishing later on)

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    I published part of my senior thesis before I got started on my postgraduate studies. – Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson Jul 12 '13 at 7:46
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    Yes, it is even possible to publish in a first rate journal, as long as the result is "good enough". – Willie Wong Jul 12 '13 at 11:17
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    Why are there close votes on this question? This is clearly not an undergraduate question; it's an academic research question from an undergraduate student. Please don't abuse the close vote system. – eykanal Jul 12 '13 at 19:49
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Your question contains three questions. Is it possible? yes. Do you have a reasonable chance? Probably less than any other researcher because you lack the training but not zero. What mistakes to avoid? Well, that is what research education partly is about.

Writing a paper involves many aspects, providing the proper background, explaining the research, putting the research in perspective and reaching proper conclusions. There are many mistakes that can be made: you do not show you know the field, you do not describe the methods/theory/experiments well enough, your discussion does not hold and your conclusions are not well founded. All of this can come from poor understanding or from not writing well. So as long as you can tick the boxes from the subject specific to the methodological including writing skills then you would stand as reasonable a chance as any. In the end there is likely only one way to find out, try.

You state that you work independently and that is all fine. But, in science we all benefit from having others read and comment on our work to improve it so your chances of success can increase dramatically if your writing can be read and commented on by peers (with at least a PhD would be recommended) to weed out problems and any lack of clarity.

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    While this answer is technically correct, I think it's ignoring the practical reality of the research community. The likelihood that an undergraduate with minimal exposure (<5 years) to a research field can (1) understand the relevant published literature, (2) understand where the field is currently and what other labs are doing, (3) perform research worthy of publication, and (4) write up the results in a journal-worthy article with minimal to no mentorship throughout the project is extremely slim at best. – eykanal Jul 12 '13 at 12:35
  • I am sorry, but I do not think I am ignoring what you comment on, it is merely implicit in my answer. I definitely agree with your explicit version of the list. – Peter Jansson Jul 12 '13 at 12:49
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A small addition to Peter Jansson's great answer; your chances of publishing your work independently will most likely depend on your field and how you want to publish your results.

I work in biomedical research and the only "independent" articles I have seen so far are written by senior academics that either portray their "expert opinion" on something, or a literature review of a particular subject. Yet again, they are not independent there either (at least in some meaning of the word), but rather utilize the resources of their affiliations and many years experience in the field.

If you are into some sort of CS research, I suspect there will be more options in terms of publishing your results, and there you might have a better chance in getting published.

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