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What are some of the best ways\avenues to collaborate with PHD students\professors to do research and publish in conferences\journals in the field of software engineering.

  1. Do students\professors encourage people reaching out to them on cold emails, if they are interested in their research?
  2. Do we write a draft a research paper and reach out for collaboration\peer review?
  3. Are there academic meetups where we can meet people informally to discuss and work with them on interest?
  4. Are students\professors interested in the practical industry experience of the field and collaborate on publishing books, articles on tech blogs ?

Is it better to enroll into a part-time PHD, if you are interested in research but have the family financial responsibilities on you? What are some good online, part-time PHD programs that are good and provide the flexibility to work during the course?

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  • I tried to be a bit more specific. Getting the initial guidance and direction helps a lot. – curiouscaptain Sep 22 '19 at 12:56
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This is certainly field specific, but in general there are few straightforward fora where someone who is simply interested in research in general can collaborate with a PhD student or academic. Such collaborations occur and often the results are amazing, but they tend to arise more organically than a cold email.

Thus to answer your penultimate question: yes becoming an academic yourself is the best way to collaborate with academics and do academic research. As for finding a programme that is right for you, that's another kettle of fish and you should be looking for researchers who work in the area you wish to enter and consider them as possible supervisors: that's research for you to do.

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  • I get a lot of cold emails from non academics looking to help with my research. I've never said yes to any of them for a multitude of reasons. I do collaborate extensively with non academics, but this is because they are in positions that relate to the non-academic side of my work, and because their expertise if valuable to my research (and mine to the functioning of their work). We meet each other at targeted conferences, at government and intergovernmental meetings, or via a cold email that is based around a clear issue that needs collaboration. – GrotesqueSI Sep 22 '19 at 13:38
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    Why not edit your answer instead of just commenting on it? – Buffy Sep 22 '19 at 13:39
  • Because that is commentary, an aside. It doesn't answer the question and is certainly field specific and my own personal experience. More like a footnote. – GrotesqueSI Sep 22 '19 at 13:56
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In CS and I assume SE, conferences are a good way to meet people with similar interests. Especially specialized conferences in your specific field. Generally, I've found that people welcome collaboration and that such relationships can be long lasting and productive. Likewise, there are workshops that are a bit more intense than conferences, but more valuable.

But you need to build them slowly enough that people become comfortable with your work and with your participation.

I once joined a collaborative community just by asking one of the founders if she had "thought of X", which was related to her talk. She said no, but that I should write it up.

Cold emails probably aren't a good way to introduce yourself, especially if you flood the receiver with your work. But an introduction by email, expressing interest in the other person's work can help, especially if you make it obvious you know something about it.

If you want to get someone interested in your work, you can make an introduction and mention that you are working on a paper on "topic X" that you are willing to share. If they are interested, they will respond.

As to industry experience and interest, it will vary with the person. Some won't be very interested at all, but some will be, and you can often discern that from the papers they publish.

If you are a student, try to join the collaboration circle of your advisor or other related faculty members. You can get access to a lot of experience and wind up, over time, as an important contributor. Many departments will have a few research seminars that you can join. You can also found one if there is enough synergy with students and faculty. This works best at larger places, of course. But if you are at a small place in a city/region with a lot of universities, you can try to get a seminar going with members from more than one institution.

Also, respond appropriately to requests made of you. It will take some time and effort, but it can be worth it. But think long term.

But, online and part-time programs offer many fewer opportunities as it takes time and effort. I'm especially skeptical of online programs as they offer very little contact with faculty. Part time can work but only if you are willing to work very intensively.

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