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I have an idea that I have developed after extensive literature review, I am quite sure I have formed an interesting hypothesis, although I am not completely sure this hypothesis is testable.

I would like to contact the expert in the field which I think should have most of the data I need and has probably done part of the analysis but has not looked at this data through the perspective I am interested in. I do not have any common collaborators with this person.

I am afraid that if I contact this person and explain my idea he might think that I am not needed to complete this research because I am not offering data or any particular methodology, and I would only be able to do only a small part of the data analysis. Basically I am not offering much aside from the idea and writing the article, thus my concern for being excluded by a potential article.

Due to time constraints I would not be able to do this on my own so I do not have many alternatives, how should I proceed?

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    "Due to time constraints I would not be able to do this on my own so I do not have many alternatives" I think you just answered your own question here. Clearly you need help so you will have to take the risk. An idea is not worth much without the time and expertise to carry it out.
    – Louic
    Dec 5, 2016 at 14:21
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    And I'm not sure how you intend to write the article if you don't actually do the work needed. Ideas are a dime a dozen. Doing experiments and analyses is hard. Writing it up without understanding what was done is impossible.
    – Jon Custer
    Dec 5, 2016 at 15:29
  • @JonCuster Good point, I do understand some of the methodology and would contribute with part of the data. Dec 9, 2016 at 10:18

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Due to time constraints I would not be able to do this on my own so I do not have many alternatives, how should I proceed?

As the comments note, you have essentially answered your own question - by not approaching the expert, who has data and can (in theory) advance the question where you have admitted you can't, you have essentially already "lost" the idea. An undeveloped idea has no inherent value.

However, beyond that, you should be aware that most professional researchers have more ideas than they have time to pursue. Right now, for example, my planning board has a 4:1 ratio of Projects I'd Like To Work On : Projects I'm Working on. This has two implications:

  1. You shouldn't be worried about losing your idea, because in all likelihood, they already have more ideas than they know what to do with and won't particularly be searching for more to add to that pile.
  2. You should prepare for the very likely answer to this proposal to be "I don't have time/funding".
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  • I should probably have added that I don't need any funding for this because I have a salary already and the project doesn't require any cost. But the time constraint is definitely the biggest problem. Although this project would be an extension to the work this expert has done. Dec 6, 2016 at 9:37

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