I have a very significant number of publishable projects and have a very large data set that can be used to publish dozens of articles. I have published a number of top peer reviewed journal papers but do not have the time and resources to do this myself and am looking for research collaborators who are experienced in writing Computer Science or Social Science journal articles to co-author these research papers with me.

How can I find such researchers? Are there any online resources that might guide me in this process?

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    Good researchers typically have their own projects and ideas to work on. Why would they want to spend time writing up your projects, rather than doing research on things that interest them?
    – ff524
    Sep 28, 2016 at 1:15
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    To add to the comment by @ff524: You want to find researchers to do this and that for you. What do you give these researchers? What makes your data/projects publishable? It seems that you haven't published (or you would know how to transform data into publications; and from there, to recruit collaborators), so you should ask yourself how you can correctly estimate the quality of the contribution you have to offer in this "cooperation". Not saying it is not there, but it clearly needs a reality check. Businesspeople, for instance, often misjudge the motivations of scientists to write papers. Sep 28, 2016 at 1:23
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    And yet... you aren't being bombarded with requests to work with your data, so maybe it's not as interesting to other researchers as you think.
    – ff524
    Sep 28, 2016 at 3:47
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    That was exactly my point: researchers are typically very busy working on their own projects, and are not interested in devoting time and resources to working on other people's projects. I'm afraid the thing you are looking for - an experienced and talented researcher with lots of free time to work on other people's projects - doesn't really exist.
    – ff524
    Sep 28, 2016 at 3:55
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    There is a difference between "finding good people to collaborate with on a project of mutual interest, with members of the collaboration having the opportunity to contribute to all parts of the research, including: conception, execution, and writing", and "finding people to write up my data in exchange for co-authorship." The former is plausible, and having a good data set to offer will help. But what you're asking sounds an awful lot like the latter, which you are much less likely to find.
    – ff524
    Sep 28, 2016 at 4:11

3 Answers 3


How good is your data? If you truly have amazing unpublished data that could readily form the basis for multiple top tier publications, then with some persistence you should be able to find academics who are interested in writing publications based on that data.

However, are you able to truly judge the suitability of your data for academic publications? In general, if you are not in academia, you are likely to have a poor to modest understanding of what makes a great dataset. For example, I sometimes work with industry datasets that look at the characteristics of workers (traits, job performance and so on). There are all sorts of academic reasons why a given dataset (that the consultant may think is interesting) will not yield a good publication: e.g., the sample size is too small; there were issues with data collection; the measures used are insufficiently reliable or valid; the measures used do not map onto the theoretical constructs in the literature; the questions that can answered by the dataset have been examined many times already in the literature; the meta data is incomplete.

Even if you have a dataset that could be used for a publication, there is still the issue of whether the dataset is good enough to persuade an academic to work on it. In general, more established academics have a large collection of studies and datasets sitting around waiting to be potentially written up. In this case, the academic is likely to strategically prioritise their publications in terms of some sort of effort-reward trade-off. So, your dataset needs to not only be publishable but sufficiently aligned and interesting to an academic to persuade them to work on it.

Thus, my advice would be to start to connect with a few academics in order to assess how suitable the datasets are for publication.

How to find a suitable academic? There are many strategies for finding a academic who might be interested in analysing your data for publication. Ideally, you'd have a sense of the kinds of publications that could be obtained from the data, and therefore which academics are working on these topics. A targeted email to some of these people explaining the data you have and your interests in sharing for publication should help to start a conversation. You can then have skype chat or face to face chats (with people in your city). If you're lucky you might have existing social networks with existing academics (e.g., where you did your studies, or in your town).

As you interact with these academics, you can get a better understanding of whether the data is suitable for publication. Also, if you have good data, but the first few academics are not interested in it, such academics may be able to refer you to other academics who are interested.

You also mention that you want "experienced researchers" to write the papers. In this regard, there is a trade-off. More high-profile researchers are more capable of getting quality work published. However, they also have many more opportunities. So there is a trade-off. For example, early career researchers may be more interested in your data, if they've had less time to obtain a broad range of research options. Your dataset might also be useful to form part of a PhD project.

How to negotiate co-authorship? Based on respected criteria for co-authorship (E.g., here), merely providing data is not sufficient to warrant co-authorship. You generally need to contribute to some degree to the writing and conception of the paper. That said, if you make co-authorship a condition of sharing your data, then academics are free to take or leave your proposal. If collecting the data in itself involved some degree of academic contribution and you also agree to contribute to the writing and analysis process (even if not leading), then such a proposal is likely to be more palatable to academics.


I work in DC, where there's a large concentration of both researchers and places (government offices, think tanks, foundations and such) that generate data. One thing I've noted repeatedly is that, outside of the obvious places like the Fed and World Bank, where everyone goes for data, every office in the city has data they wish people would work with.

So your condition isn't particularly unique.

The strategy I see most often used is to try and contact academic departments directly, with the goal of reaching PhD students. The (econ) departments I'm familiar with are often happy to forward opportunities to their researchers, and PhD students as a rule are out hunting for research projects. My department regularly has guest speakers that come to talk about data and projects that need researchers. This would be a particularly fruitful strategy if you're offering to work with them on the project, but it should work even if not - PhD students can still take projects based on your data to their advisers to work with.

  • I like this idea of providing data and topics to students. We could go further, and suggest that the OP get some funding and some PhD students and postdocs of his own. Sep 29, 2016 at 2:10
  • That's true. Everybody has tons of data these days, many people think that their data is unique and interesting. I, for one, do not need any more data…
    – Dirk
    Sep 29, 2016 at 13:34

Publish a detailed description of your dataset, say, on your website, along with your offer+terms to share it for people to work with you on it. You don't need to disclose the data for that.

If it's as good as you're telling us, people will spread the word to the relevant mailing lists, and run to you. You can start by telling the few people you already worked with, and ask them to spread the word. If the data is that good, they'll share the memo until someone wants to work with you on it.

Then also, as comments point out, maybe the dataset it not interesting enough to hijack the attention of busy people.

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    Excellent idea. Open declaration of the expected conditions makes sense; however, keep in mind that, unless the data acquisition had considerable contribution by you, people will consider authorship as not warranted. Sep 28, 2016 at 12:04
  • Indeed, if OP intends to have so little part in the work as not to deserve co-authorship, expectations shall be discussed beforehand. I assume he's genuinely looking for collaborators, as he states, rather than ghostwriters, as we all seem to understand. Sep 28, 2016 at 12:14

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