I am a new immigrant and my question is about norms in American universities. I have MSc degree from abroad and in order to improve my chances for admission to a decent PhD program I would like to get published. I would appreciate your answers about the following questions:
Is it acceptable for someone outside a department/university to contact a professor and ask him/her for a research project (as a non-student)?
I do not have journal publications. What else can make them convinced?
Finally, what would be an ideal etiquette/strategy for contacting professors with a plan for making such a request, if it is sensible at all.