I have been toying with the idea of becoming an independent researcher, raising money by working very long/hard hours for a year, then taking a year off for solely for research. This would be partially for financial reasons (Post-Doc salaries are really awful), but also because I think my research would benefit if I could pour my undivided attention into algorithm design for a year.

The biggest problem with this plan however is that in order to publish my research after a year or so of intensive work, I would need to be affiliated with an institute - even journals like arXiv require this.

This got me thinking - what actually is an institute? From the little bit of research into it I have done, it seems to be no different to a standard company, although most have charitable status and are tax-exempt or non-profit.

If other people would also like to work for-profit for a year, then for-research for a year (or at some other frequency), then a virtual institute to publish under would be quite a useful thing. In fact I'm surprised such institutes don't already exist: we have scam journals and scam conferences - why no scam institutes?

Of course if I did set up an institute to publish under it wouldn't be a scam, (there are numerous benefits I can see a virtual institute providing for members), but the idea of a on-paper-only institute is applicable to both.

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    Your question is based on a false premise. You don't have to be affiliated with an institute in order to publish - no reputable journal requires this. See academia.stackexchange.com/questions/3010/…. And arXiv (which is not a journal) doesn't require affiliation either; you just may have to be endorsed. So this is why there are no scam institutes: there's no need. Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 23:29
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    ronininstitute.org Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 4:51
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    Right. Frankly, for most people who complain about having difficulty getting endorsed, the problem isn't really "I don't know anyone and the community is so elitist", it's "My work is junk and really doesn't belong on arXiv but I won't listen to anyone who tells me so". For a young PhD student, getting endorsed should be as simple as writing a two-line email to your PhD advisor, or anyone else in the field you know: "I'm trying to upload to arXiv but since I am no longer at the institute I need an endorsement. Could you please endorse me? Thanks." Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 13:29
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    For that matter, most PhD students in an arXiv-able field will already have posted preprints during their studies, and thus can post for the rest of their lives without further hassle. If your studies are over but you still have access to your institutional email address, that may also entitle you to automatic endorsement. Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 13:32
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    my research would benefit if I could pour my undivided attention into [it] then don't waste a minute creating an institute.
    – Cape Code
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 16:25

2 Answers 2


I know a number of independent or semi-independent researchers who have set up a small company for themselves to affiliate with (e.g., the whimsically named Turing Ate My Hamster, Ltd.), for various different reasons.

This is pretty easy to do and, I believe, achieves everything that you are looking for from a virtual institute. It also has the advantage of not being fake in any way---just very small.


If your research is valuable then you should be able to find an institute to affiliate with. If there is a lack of interest in for temporary or part time affiliations in your field (that would work with your research needs) then perhaps there is a demand for institutes more welcoming to non traditional relationships.

There is no reason why such an institute would need to be a scam as you refer to it. Find others in your situation and form an institute together. Depending on the research you are able to produce, perhaps you can attract funding at some point.

  • Sorry the scam paragraph is probably a bit misleading. What I was trying to say was if anyone could set up their own institute, i'm sure I would have seen a scammer try it by now. If one did actually set up the institutional equivalent of arXiv for example, then it would not be a scam at all. I love the idea of finding other like-minded researchers in my field to come together and setup an institute. There are tech companies with similar origin stories. I will have to think more about how one could do this... Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 23:00
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    "If your research is valuable then you should be able to find an institute to affiliate with." Why? It might very happen that his research is valuable but there are too few positions in his field, or there are even more valuable research areas, etc. Obviously I would say this is the most common situation.
    – Dilworth
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 0:13
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    @Dilworth I meant valuable in comparison to other research happening in the field. I agree that some fields have so much high quality research already happening it is hard to fund every new idea that shows merit. Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 1:10
  • You might want to correct your phrasing then.
    – Dilworth
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 18:04

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