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How do I fulfill the following requirements if I have no connection to academic researchers:

Evidence of original scientific or academic contributions of major significance in your field
Evidence of authorship of scholarly works in your field, in major media outlets, or professional journals

I have recently read about "research software engineers". I'm perfectly qualified for this role: I'm a data engineer and a cloud architect. I can make a significant contribution to a research that requires large scale data collection and analysis. I'm not interested in compensation or employment, just one time project.

Is it possible to help some researchers with their data analysis and be mentioned as an co-author of their research without spending years on building a career in academics?

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    What are these requirements for?
    – Bryan Krause
    Jun 1, 2022 at 13:29
  • Do not offer to work for free. There are plenty of people who would like jobs doing this, and you offering to work for free for whatever reason undermines that. If you must, donate what they pay you to something you support. Jun 1, 2022 at 16:00
  • There are lots of open source packages used exclusively by scientists that have open issues and would welcome pull requests from anyone that resolved them. That's probably right in your skill set too. Is that something you'd be interested in?
    – Clumsy cat
    Jun 3, 2022 at 16:22

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The answer seems obvious. Since what you want is nearly impossible to do on your own (major scientific research), you need to get connected to some serious researchers, either in academia or industry, and offer your services.

It would be much more difficult if you also want/need serious funding in order to participate. And, academics are more likely to respond positively than industry people who may have confidentiality concerns.

If you are near a major research university go visit and talk to people. Make an appointment with a department head in a field of interest and suggest what you can do and try to get introduced to faculty that might need your skills. If you have sufficient skills you might want to explore employment with a major company that does serious scientific research, not just product development.

Blind emails to people are not likely to be very effective. It is too hard to establish your skill set. An email introduction from one academic to another is a better bet. Once you have one contact willing to vouch for you you may be able to get more.

But the key, if you don't want an academic career, is to make contact with people who already do serious research. Maybe you can make it work.

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