I call myself an "independent researcher", however, I have no relevant academic degree in the field in which I do research (physics, especially relativity, and electromagnetism). I just have some articles published in peer-reviewed journals and some self-published scholarly books. I do have a BSc in Civil Engineering. Is it possible for me to find a job as a researcher? If so, where can I find it?
Finding a career as a researcher without any PhD, work experience, and/or relevant academic degree
1Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Academia Meta, or in Academia Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.– cag51 ♦Mar 14 at 16:22
4It's not appropriate to promote your work here. If you want to summarize your views for this site that may be okay, but it's not appropriate to send people to read part of your books to interpret your SE question.– Bryan Krause ♦Mar 15 at 0:38
1@BryanKrause Yes, understood. Thanks.– Mohammad JavanshiryMar 15 at 1:49
"Is it possible for me to find a job as a researcher? If positive, where can I find it?"
It's certainly possible for you to find a job as a researcher, so let's focus on the second question, which is where you can find such a job.
Your StackExchange profile provides links to five published papers and two books, all single-author. One of them was published in 2021 and has 9 citations on Google Scholar by two mutually exclusive groups of co-authors apart from yourself. Based on those details alone, your application for a job as a PhD student researcher could be very well received provided that the other parts of your application don't have bad red flags. What you have done on your own demonstrates a strong work-ethic, nearly unparalleled motivation to do research, and an immense passion for your subject, which are all things that are exactly what a potential PhD supervisor wants to see. A PhD can be a very big commitment though: It typically takes many years, the pay is usually not as high as in other places, and you might be required to do a lot of course work, comprehensive exams, assistance with teaching, etc. An alternative would be to try to find a job in a university as what is sometimes called (among other names for it) a "research technician", but such jobs are extremely rare, and it is even more rare for them to be advertised. In both of these cases (PhD student or "research technician") you would almost always be working under a supervisor, meaning that ideally your research interests would align. Apart from these two positions, the likelihood of you getting a research position (such as a professorship) without a PhD is close to 0.
Other academic institutions
Various other academic institutions (especially ones in which the primary function is to publish papers in academic journals) also hire full-time researchers. Probably the largest employers of academic researchers outside of universities are government labs (e.g. NRC in Canada, NIST/LANL/etc. in USA) but just like in universities, you would very likely have to work under a research supervisor and your research topics would almost certainly need to align with theirs. Independent researchers or research leaders at such institutions, are much like professors at universities in that you would almost always need a PhD to get such a position. What I have said about universities and government labs also applies to most other research institutes (e.g. Perimeter Institute or MILA in Canada). A different type of academic institution in which you're more likely to find a job as a researcher (especially in your field, which is physics), is at academic start-up companies (99% of what they do seems to be research that gets published in academic journals), such as Zapata, Xanadu, 1Qbit, etc. This is where you are most likely to find a job as a researcher in an academic setting, but once hired your research topics would usually have to align with the institution employing you, even more-so than in the above cases.
32Unfortunately, I think to most researchers those papers and citations would themselves be a red flag. If I'm reading correctly all the citations to the paper you link to share one co-author (Google sometimes reverses their name order), who appears to explicitly deny both special and general relativity, and advocate a universal reference frame interpretation of physics. This is not mainstream, to say the least. I suspect many academics would hesitate to hire someone even for a PhD in this area if they were clearly strongly attached to such theories. Mar 13 at 9:42
Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Academia Meta, or in Academia Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.– Massimo Ortolano ♦Mar 15 at 6:46
It is unlikely you will find an academic research position. There is already an oversupply of PhDs with postdoc experience doing mainstream physics, and by your own admission you will have a very hard time competing with those. Unfortunately for you, relativity and electromagnetism are both well understood: most of the recently published papers in those areas deal with teaching or some pedagogical aspects of the topics, and any independent theory is extremely likely to be ignored. There are some independent researchers in physics, but they all have PhD degrees and publish in mainstream journals.
You may be able to find a teaching position which will allow you enough spare time to continue your independent work, but it’s unlikely to be in a university, again because universities can afford to hire people with PhDs.
Let us continue this discussion in chat. Mar 12 at 17:31
I removed the comments since a chat has been created. Please continue the discussion there.– Massimo Ortolano ♦Mar 12 at 22:02
Put yourself in the shoes of the hiring committee people.
The lack of a PhD degree is a strong (usually, fatal) point against you at good universities or labs, a weakly negative point at low-profile ones.
Having self-published scholarly books is a very strong point against you at any school or lab worthy of its salt. The people will suspect that publishers refused to accept your books. Even if your books were not self-published, it would matter a lot whether they appeared at an established mainstream academic publisher or at some trashy company that accepts anything. Just as self-publishing, so publishing with such omnivorous companies looks suspicious.
As for your journal papers -- it depends, again, where exactly they appeared. If in Phys. Rev. or other top-notch journals, people take you seriously. There exist, however, journals that are scientific or peer-reviewed only in name. A paper published in such a journal is a resume-killer.
There are plenty of PhD`s on the market.
In the light of this, even at a low-end institution your CV will not be likely to get shortlisted.
This said, I know some people without PhD, who are working successfully at government labs. However, these people were hired either after they received their BS degree in a relevant area, or after they combined their BS degree with a subsequent experience in industry -- which experience was of interest to the goventment lab that eventually hired them.
3Knowing where to publish and how journals and conferences are perceived in your field is very important. That is probably not that clear if you start or work quite isolated. At least it was something that I just learned as I started doing research as part of my PhD. It wasn't even clear to me (nor did I have an idea of it) as I was a student.– StefanHMar 14 at 11:50
I'm sorry for writing this but I think your chances are close to zero. That's because of the content of your papers. For example in the link given by user1271772:
The mechanical motion of a system consisting of simple springs is investigated from the viewpoint of two inertial observers with a relativistic relative velocity. It is shown that the final displacement of the springs is not measured the same by the observers. Indeed, it is demonstrated that there is an incompatibility between kinematics and dynamics in Einstein’s relativity regarding the force transformation.
This is the kind of thing which will ring immediate warning bells, because:
- It challenges Relativity, which has met and passed all sorts of experimental verifications since Einstein conceived it;
- It seems to demonstrate that you don't actually know relativity well. For example, that different observers measure different displacements is obvious, that is just length contraction. You also refer to "force transformation" although it is also unclear what that is (relativity is a theory of space & time, so force is not something people associate with the theory in the first place).
Then add the fact that the only citing authors citing your work appear to be other people with similarly off-the-mainstream paper titles like "The existence of a universal frame of reference, in which it propagates light, is still an unresolved problem of physics", and I suspect you have no chance of getting a career as a researcher.
2What do you mean by all sorts of experimental verifications? If you really want to verify a theory by performing experiments, you need to perform an infinite number of them, which is impossible. Moreover, considering your statement It seems to demonstrate that you don't actually know relativity well. For example, that different observers measure different displacements is obvious, that is just length contraction, it is evident that you do not know relativity well since transverse lengths remain unchanged. Only the lengths parallel to the direction of motion are Lorentz contracted. Mar 14 at 11:38
12@MohammadJavanshiry "verification" has a different meaning to "confirmation". A theory cannot be proved right, but it can be verified. As for me not knowing relativity well, I'd be the first to say there are a lot of people who know it better than me - but I know enough to be extremely skeptical of the abstract, and the fact that nobody else has cited it is confirmation.– AllureMar 14 at 12:09
When you say his chances are close to "zero", chances of what? Chances of getting a tenure-track research professorship, or chances of getting a research job as a PhD student? The fact that the paper is only getting cited by one group of people so far, and the fact that the research is not "mainstream" or maybe not even the highest in quality, is going to make the chances of him getting a tenure-stream research professorship close to "zero" in most countries, but will not on their own block him from all research jobs in the world period. Mar 14 at 15:52
4@MohammadJavanshiry Do not attempt to use this site to promote your work.– Bryan Krause ♦Mar 15 at 0:35
2@user1271772 , probably both if he doesn't renounce the papers and books. Based on the title/abstract of the paper, most likely the entire paper comes about from a misunderstanding of transformations between reference frames in special relativity. Something that was a problem between half a century and a century ago, but is now just homework exercises in say a 2nd year physics course. Its kind of like him saying Shor's algorithm will never work and we are wasting our money because he doesn't understand the Chinese remainder theorem Mar 15 at 9:47
From a legal perspective, I can tell you that you must have a PhD to get a position at a German university related to research (apart from graduation positions of course). And generally, for the many postdoc position, you obviously need a PhD.
But having said that, if you have some solid publications under your belt, and if you are probably known in the community, why not approach some potential supervisors and do a PhD? Doing a PhD is research, so it is a job as a researcher. That you already have produced results and your experience with the publication process might help you to finish it faster.
2Who said that the OP wants the job to be at a university, let alone a German one? Anyway I gave you +1 because it's a better answer than the other one (I was just about to recommend the same thing: doing a PhD). Mar 12 at 15:55
8Yes, sure. Thank you for mentioning that. I am from Germany, finishing my PhD right now and looking for a job at a university. So I have experience with the situation here (and my answer is probably skewed by that). Yes, there are also companies who hire researchers or some places like the Max-Planck Society (here in Germany).– StefanHMar 12 at 16:00
1Do you think it would be possible to do a PhD without any relevant academic degree (even a BSc.)? Mar 13 at 10:47
@FerventHippo it is possible (I know a couple of people who have done exactly this) but it’s highly non traditional and not for everyone. An example would be Prof. John Moffat. Mar 13 at 23:23
1For German public research positions, a PhD is almost never a strict or legal requirement: the typical requirement would be e.g. for a postdoc position "PhD or equivalent qualification". But a PhD is the easiest way to show one does have the relevant qualification. Mar 14 at 8:54
Is it possible for me to find a job as a researcher?
Simple answer. Yes, it's possible (as academic researcher). Would it be a walk in the park. Most likely not.
You have about 10 publications on your GS: 10 if we count those in parts - I, II, III
NB: in some parts of the world
- It is impossible due to regulations/law
- it is difficult due to 'tradition'
- it is possible but depends on discipline
If so, where can I find it?
Your obvious choices would be universities, research centers, R&D units/organisations, ... policy research organisations
Before, you proceed, you might want to give thoughts to
- the quality of the research outlets/journals (you published in). PS: I've not checked. In any case, apart from outright predatory journals, quality is subjective.
- formalising your 'research' by pursuing your doctorate through the PhD by Publication (retrospective) route. Though the prospective route is common (or integrated into traditional PhD), the retrospective isn't in certain parts of the world. From my (ongoing) research (of 90 UK universities), there are more than 16 universities offering PhD by Publication to all. A large number offer to their staff only or to their staff and alumni, and rest extends to those having close research association with them.
NB: for PhD by Publication, you'll need to show rigour, theme (golden thread) and coherence through a commentary/critical analysis ...
- seeking research assistant post (as a 'leg in')