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Perhaps a bit of background on myself is useful in this case. I've obtained a bachelor's and master's degree in pure mathematics and applied mathematics, respectively. Although I would like to do a PhD on a topic that is somewhat related to these fields, I suspect I will not be able to obtain a position due to my GPA (7.0 out of 10) and limited amount of contacts in academia (I've graduated almost two years ago).

Despite of the limited perspectives for an academic career, I still have loads of ideas for research, and I'm eager to publish articles as an independent researcher in my spare time. More often than not, however, the research ideas only partially pertain to my area of expertise. Usually, I would like to apply some statistical methods to do research in some social science. For instance, I'd like to do a statistical comparison on the holocaust victims of different countries, or on the methods through which the media can influence governments.

While I may be quite good at formulating research questions and doing statistical analyses, I often lack the relevant domain expertise to substantiate the article with relevant information, and relate it to prior research in the area. Therefore, I would like to work together with people who are more knowledgeable in these fields, and write papers together.

Being outside academia, however, often makes it difficult to find people who'd like to collaborate with me. Thus, I wonder whether there is some international community of independent scholars. Preferably, this community would be backed by some website through which I can find like-minded researchers who'd like to work with me. Ideally, the website would have some kind of SE-like interface, through which on can propose ideas for articles. Then, others can respond to the idea, and "matches" between researchers can be made.

Having a background in mathematics, I know of the so-called Polymath Project for massively collaborative mathematical projects. This is related to, but not exactly, what I'm looking for. For one, it is restricted to mathematics. Moreover, it is not especially geared towards independent researchers, and the concept is not to have some kind of match-making system for researchers and their ideas.

Questions

  1. Do you know whether an international community of independent researchers exists?

  2. Is it backed by the website I've just described?

  3. Are there any projects like this currently under development, or have they existed in the past?

  4. If it doesn't exist (yet), do you think it's a good idea to create such a community and website, and do you have suggestions to make it a thriving, long-term community?

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    @AntonVrdoljak Yes, that's a nice website. I have a profile over there, but it's not entirely what I'm looking for. It's not especially geared towards finding other people who'd like to work with independent researchers like me, and it doesn't include the match-making feature based on research ideas, I think – Max Muller May 24 '20 at 13:24
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    Does this answer your question? Is there a "Facebook" for researchers? (to collaborate on projects) – GoodDeeds May 24 '20 at 17:18
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    @GoodDeeds the question does seem to be related. I hope this question can still remain open to other answers though, as this one is more geared towards independent researchers and creating a research community outside universities – Max Muller May 24 '20 at 19:16
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    Take a look at Ronin Institute ronininstitute.org – Justas May 24 '20 at 21:04
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    Re: 4, I don't think it exists yet, and I do think there would be interest. For example, there are lots of PhDs who go into industry that remain interested in academic research, but have a hard time finding collaborators. If you're serious about developing a project like this, let me know and I'll do it with you. – Alexander Gruber May 28 '20 at 2:41
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IGDORE, a large organization for independent scientists, hosts an online forum titled On Science and Academia. This is by far the largest online meeting place for independent scientists to my knowledge. IGDORE membership is not required to participate. I am not a member of IGDORE, and I have seen others with traditional university affiliations participate as well.

I've found the website useful to meet like-minded people, and I believe they would be receptive to requests to collaborate on a particular idea.

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No, there is no international community that convenes independent scholars together.

But, yes, it would be a good idea. LENS lists more than 14.000 scholarly works published by independent researchers, which indicates a demand for such a community.


That being said, there are national groupings of independent scholars: ISAA, or the Independent Scholars Association of Australia, is one example. In addition, there here used to be local groups in the U.S. dating back to the 1980s. However, I am not aware whether any of them still exist.

See p. 35 from the Jan-Feb. 1985 issue (Vol 71, No. 1) of Academe, a magazine from the American Association of University Professors:

list of organizations for independent scholars in the U.S.

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