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I have been working on some independent research for a few years now, and I'm finally at the point where I'm seriously considering publishing a Computer Science/Mathematical Algorithm in an Academic Journal.

I presently work as a Software Development Engineer at a major tech firm. I have never published a paper before, though I do have my Masters and have gone through the process of writing a research paper before.

My specific questions are:

  1. If my research paper is completely unrelated and independent of anything I do at work (nor am I even in a research type position), what - if any - obligations do I have to my work place? Do I need to seek their approval before publishing a research paper?

  2. If so, do I need to supply them with my research paper - or merely provide an abstract/description of the research to them?

  3. Will an Academic Journal require me to submit evidence that there is no workplace-conflict as an Independent Researcher?

Thanks :)

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    As far as I know, this depends entirely on your employment contract. In other words, I don't expect the journal to care, but your employer might. – Andreas Blass May 16 '20 at 22:24
  • That makes sense, thanks @AndreasBlass – Ryan Pierce Williams May 16 '20 at 23:14
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    I touched up your question to make the title clearer about what you are asking, and to fix the tags. Welcome to the site. – 6005 May 17 '20 at 0:24
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  1. If my research paper is completely unrelated and independent of anything I do at work (nor am I even in a research type position), what - if any - obligations do I have to my work place? Do I need to seek their approval before publishing a research paper?

You would have to read whatever NDA you signed, as this is specific to your situation. IANAL, but I think the most likely answer is there is no problem with this. You aren't allowed to divulge company secrets, but this is something you worked on independently (somewhat of a hobby).

  1. Will an Academic Journal require me to submit evidence that there is no workplace-conflict as an Independent Researcher?

The short answer is no. The long answer is that many journals would require you to disclose if you have any conflicts of interest that would affect the validity of your results. For example, if your paper is about the effectiveness of a particular algorithm used at Uber for matching riders to drivers, and you work at Uber, you would need to disclose that as a conflict of interest. However, as you have already said that your research topic is unrelated to your work at your job, it probably would not constitute a possible conflict of interest.

Submitting evidence would be even less likely, I wouldn't worry about that unless asked.

However, note that you will have to choose an affiliation when you submit, which means you probably will want to think about how you want your name to be listed. This is just for informational purposes. Perhaps you can be listed as affiliated with your company, or maybe you can arrange to have no affiliation.

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Talk to your employer:

  • they have a legitimate interest to check that the paper does not conflict with their legitimate interests.
    That may be the case e.g. if the paper contains an invention and they may own copyright on a software implementation in the paper (at least where I am, copyright can go to the employer even for work done outside working hours) or otherwise touches their business secrets.
  • OTOH, they may be very happy to know that you do research, and it may open career choices for you if you let them know that you are interested in research.
  • Before showing them, decide for yourself what you answer if they ask you to publish under your work affiliation. I.e. would you like or dislike this?

I'd hand over a printout saying something along the lines of "Hey, I thought this may be of interest to you - I've been doing research in my spare time, and here's the resulting manuscript which I plan to submit to $journal."

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  • Good points. I suppose I'm a bit protective of my work; I'd prefer not to give anyone the manuscript except as I must to get it published. Afterwards I'd be happy to share it and show off of course :P I do like the idea of this potentially leading to new career choices; I think I would like to ultimately find myself in the role of being a professor or researcher. But I think for this first publication I'd like to do it in my own name. – Ryan Pierce Williams May 17 '20 at 2:53
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Given the research is independt of your work, it is a hobby project. Anyone can (in theory) write and publish an academic article as a hobby project.

Supposing you do not have a particularly draconic legislation in your country, it is fundamentally your own business what you do while not working (assuming innocent hobbies here, not criminal acts, however defined in your country).

This all assumes that your work and hobby are indeed completely independent.

That said, if (but only if) you do have a healthy relationship with your workplace and boss, you might want to tell them, just as a matter of courtesy.

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