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I've never delved deeper into this but I'm still curious: do I need to be enrolled in a PhD to publish scientific papers?

I have a MSc but I regularly read research papers of not-so-great-a-quality and think "I might write better stuff than this". It doesn't happen with the majority of papers but the point is: I don't think those authors are all smarter than me.

How does a 'private citizen' not enrolled in any PhD course publish a research to a journal?

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    I wonder what makes you believe that you are `smarter'. Writing a paper in my opinion is not about being smart but about completing some research worthy of publication. – AnyAD Jul 17 '18 at 8:38
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    I probably poorly expressed myself. I do not wish to 'outsmart' anyone. My point was that I believe I'm capable of writing papers as well. I never attended a PhD so I'm not familiar with how peer review, journal submissions and other iters work. – Dean Jul 17 '18 at 8:40
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    In computer science, almost anyone can publish a paper. Many good researchers don't have PhDs. But it depends on the field. – xuq01 Jul 17 '18 at 8:49
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    @AnyAD, which fields require "someone to present your work"? Sorry, I never heard of that. A journal might make such a requirement, so as to get some easy (i.e. free) assurance of the likelihood that a new author is not just putting out garbage, wasting the time of reviewers. But for a field in general, it sounds, frankly, preposterous to me. Examples? – Buffy Jul 17 '18 at 10:13
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    Journals do not require academic affiliation or PhD to submit a manuscripts. This is why eg industrial researchers can publish, too. I don’t know though why you think you can do better a job if you have very rudimentary knowledge of said job. Your questions suggest you haven’t ever seen paper writing from close. – Greg Jul 17 '18 at 14:54
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No, you do not need to be enrolled in a PhD to publish scientific papers. You don't need to be a professor either. It's common, but by no means mandatory. For example the game Arimaa was invented by Omar Syed. He published a paper introducing the game and has never earned a PhD.

As for how to publish - it's no different from those who have PhDs. Go to your target journal's website; it will have instructions for authors on how to submit the paper.

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    +1. It is the work that is important not the imprimatur of any organization. If you do the work and it is good work, serious people will want to know. – Buffy Jul 17 '18 at 10:15
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You say that you have a masters degree. So you have an affiliation with the university where you have studied. It may be possible to use this. You could talk to your masters degree advisor or the head of the department and try to find out (Especially if perhaps you got the research idea or some work done there as a student).

If you tried to submit to ArXiv for example, you'd be asked for your affiliation. So affiliation may be more important than a PhD.

You may contact the journal and ask them directly. In my opinion, if your work is good, the journal should make an effort to publish it.

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    I thought about that but it's nowhere a leading university and by all means a crappy one. I'm afraid they'll want to put their name on the paper even though they did nothing. That's a path I should consider carefully before treading. – Dean Jul 17 '18 at 8:52
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    Think of affiliation as more for identification than anything else. If you are affiliated and they have put resources in that aid you then listing them is worth doing. Otherwise "unaffiliated" is accurate. Whether it makes people value your work more or less is personal - up to them. – Buffy Jul 17 '18 at 10:08
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There is no qualification required to submit a journal to an academic publication. Most journals allow you to create a profile on their submission website and submit papers at will. The profile information for academic journals generally allows a range of titles (Mr, Ms, Dr, Prof, etc.), and this anticipates the fact that some submissions will be from people who do not have a PhD. Most good journals use the practice of blind-review, so the referees will not know who the author is, or what qualifications the author has, or lacks.

If you would like to submit a paper to a journal, search for their submission page online, create a profile, and then undertake your submission. All you will really need is an email address for them to correspond with you, and a healthy sense of self, for dealing with inevitable rejections!

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    What you describe is the double-blind review, but it is not that common except of certain limited number of disciplines (e.g., computer science, which appears to have a strong community here). In my discipline it is more or less non-existent even in top journals. The reviewers do know the identity of the authors. – Vladimir F Jul 17 '18 at 11:14
  • @Vladimir: Okay, that is interesting. In math/stats it is standard to have blind review. I guess it varies by discipline. – Ben - Reinstate Monica Jul 17 '18 at 11:35
  • I've done peer review in public policy and public administration and I never knew anything about the authors – Andrew Brēza Jul 17 '18 at 20:39
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    May be true in stats, but not in maths. – Carsten S Jul 17 '18 at 22:27
  • @Vladimir F Every maths paper I was ever asked to referee had the author names on the paper (including affiliation). It is the referee details that are not shared with authors. – AnyAD Jul 18 '18 at 5:27
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Last year I published a paper, and I don't have a PhD. I wasn't even employed.

First I contacted a researcher in the field to get recommendations on which journals are the best in the field. Then I emailed the editor of one of them, after doing my research, but before writing a paper, to see if he thought the topic was a good fit. After he said it was, I wrote the paper and went through the normal peer review process without any problems. For affiliation, I listed "Independent researcher", as did my co-author.

Kirmse, A. and de Ferranti, J. (2017) Calculating the prominence and isolation of every mountain in the world. Progress in Physical Geography 41(6), pp. 788–802.

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    Congratulations on your paper. Looks like an interesting one. – Ben - Reinstate Monica Jul 18 '18 at 0:18

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