Hello Academia Community,

I hold a PhD and would like to pursue a research project independent of an university (outside of academia on my own or in collaboration with other researchers). First of all, is that even possible? Second, what governing body do I submit my proposal to for review? Third, could you please outline the process?....I wonder whether if it is as simple as conducting the research and submitting to a journal?

I appreciate your reply,



1 Answer 1


There are only a few issues. First, yes, you can do such research as long as you haven't signed a contract that gives all of your IP to your employer. This sort of yielding of output is common in industry for employees, but rare, I hope, in academia.

Second, if your research involves human subjects in any way, you probably have to get vetting on your research proposal from an ethics body. In the US, that would be a university's IRB, or some equivalent. Most reputable journals won't accept a paper involving human subjects without an external ethics review.

But if there are no impediments, just do your research and submit it in the normal way. If you don't want your university's name attached to it in any way, your affiliation can just be "independent researcher".

  • Not so rare in academia, in the UK.
    – Flyto
    Aug 6, 2019 at 17:31
  • Hmmm. @Flyto, so you mean all IP, or just what is potentially patentable?
    – Buffy
    Aug 6, 2019 at 17:56
  • read the contract with your employer. In general, if you used employer's data/equipment/software/paid time to do your research, they might have a claim on it, and you might have to get their approval before publishing.
    – Bald Bear
    Aug 6, 2019 at 18:12
  • @buffy I'd have to check my old contracts, but I'm pretty sure there was an IP grab from staff (and from PhD students who didn't opt out)
    – Flyto
    Aug 6, 2019 at 19:00
  • @Flyto, in my career in the US, I never considered asking, nor was getting permission ever suggested.
    – Buffy
    Aug 6, 2019 at 19:03

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