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I'm interested in research in the field of educational sciences. I may enroll in a Ph.D. course in the future. But right now, I'm not a student anywhere and I want to do research in my interested field even without being in the university. I think one of the most important benefits of being a Ph.D. student is access to scientific community. You have access to professors and other students, and you can engage in a group scientific research work. My question is that what are the possibilities for an independent researcher (in a developing country) to have access to scientific communities? To have discussions, get reviews, etc. ?

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    Where are you based? Where I'm from, you need to have both a bachelors and a masters degree in order to start a PhD, and doing a those would already integrate you into an academic environment. – Polygnome Mar 20 at 22:48
  • I have gotten my BS many years ago and in an unrelated field. My MS is relatively new, but it was not from a good university and it doesn't help me about the above concerns. – Hossein Mar 21 at 3:07
  • Also, important question: are you a teacher? Most schools should have someone in charge of professional development. – nick012000 Mar 21 at 3:10
  • No, I'm not a teacher. In addition, in my country schools do not provide such opportunities. – Hossein Mar 21 at 12:18
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One of your best bets would be to find some active SubReddits, Discord, and GitHub communities. Without university infrastructure, it’s a very steep challenge. Even with my suggestions, you become increasingly limited by what you’re able to do.

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  • GitHub communities? – user1271772 Mar 21 at 2:13
  • Yes. GitHub communities exist. For example, Ethereum is a decentralized blockchain network that has active research from a wide variety of people. Keep in mind, there are insanely intelligent people who also look at serious academics with derision. What matters is the quality of the content that is produced, everything else is just administrative. – GrayLiterature Mar 21 at 13:39
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My question is that what are the possibilities for an independent researcher (in a developing country) to have access to scientific communities? To have discussions, get reviews, etc. ?

To get reviews, you need to submit manuscripts to journals.

In addition, setting up a profile at scholarly 'social media'-like sites might help, e.g. ResearchGate. Some people have concerns against such profit-oriented (but free-to-use) platforms, but it might help with finding a small initial network.

To discuss with an informal "community of attention", well, many scholars are on Twitter. You could see what is discussed under the hashtag #HigherEducation, and follow like-minded people to exchange ideas. You can tweet about novel papers you read in your discipline; the authors will notice that and thank you for spreading their ideas (and thereby raising their Altmetric Scores).

Some Twitter accounts are specifically designed to introduce 'earliest career researchers' into the community, e.g. @AcademicChatter.

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It is possible, but difficult. Possibly very difficult. On the other hand, if you can get the process started it can accelerate moderately quickly.

The problem is to make the first contact and convince someone that you have interesting ideas and who will be willing to communicate with you over the long run. Blind emails to people are a poor strategy, since people are busy and it is hard to convince them that working with you will have any value without personal contact.

If you can work independently then you can submit papers to appropriate journals and conferences and make contacts that way, but working alone is, as you say, difficult in itself.

If you can use other social contacts to get you in touch with some academic, and the people recommending you will vouch for you, then you can get started. But, once it happens, make expanding the circle of contacts and even collaboration a major effort. Co-authors, for example, will be happy to introduce you to others.

Note that publishing in academic journals doesn't require that you be associated with any academic institution. The review process tends (most cases) to focus on the papers themselves, not the affiliation of the author.

But, find a way to make some personal contact. Find a way to interest them in some idea you have for research/publications. Expand from there. Not easy, though.

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One silver lining of the pandemic is that most conferences and workshops have gone online, eliminating travel expenses, and cut registration fees, doubly reducing barriers to entry. You could look for some in your field to keep abreast of what is happening, present your work, and network.

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