What are the best options for publishing an original piece of research for someone who is not in academia? The main issues are:

  • zero prior publications, i.e. no reputation whatsoever in the given field,
  • no contacts, i.e. no-one that can step in as a "referee" or a "supervisor",
  • no academic titles in the given field (ex. a PhD or something equivalent).

The research is original and does provide new information about a given topic. But given the above limitations the options are not obvious.

What can one do in this case? I heard people who are starting out in publishing can post on arXiv.org, and once they have a couple of "published" papers respectable journals will be more likely to consider the candidate.

Is there any advice out there for people doing research as hobby?

2 Answers 2


The lack of title or previous publications is not going to be a major problem. Double blind reviewing takes care of that. The biggest problem you will face is lack of experience. Academic articles have a very particular style, which is hard to acquire without a mentor. Also knowing if something is truly new, often requires inside knowledge. Similarly, knowing what knowledge is standard and what needs to be explained needs inside knowledge.

If you do this as a hobby, then it may be more rewarding to get face to face feedback rather than an article with your name on it that collects dust. In that case it would be nicer to try to get this in a conference.

  • 3
    Double blind review is not always used. But even when it is not, having no prior publications or degree is no issue if the work is solid. Jun 6, 2017 at 15:48
  • 1
    I'd add that in many fields double blind review is never used (thankfully, somehow). Jun 6, 2017 at 18:04

My advice: Work on the second point, get contacts. Send an email to people working on related topics, ask them if they would like to take a look at your work, if you can ask them a question, etc. If possible, try to contact PhD candidates or recent post docs, as they often have more time available than a professor and might be more willing to look at what you did. For that you should have a nicely written, complete draft available, that is both short and informative and that is nice to read - for example: don't put way to long equations, try to drop these and state that "one can prove, that...", maybe adding that you will send the proof if needed.

Once you have established a contact, the first thing should be to find out if what you did is really worth a publication. Maybe it is already known and you simply don't have access to the journal? Maybe it is not interesting enough, e.g. it might be considered a simple homework exercise for someone who is an expert on the field?

If the expert agrees that what you did is indeed new and a nice result worthy of being published, ask him for advice to proceed. If possible, get him as a co-author or ask him to refer you to one. Such a co-author might take care of things like

  • Literature review.
  • Explaining why the found results are important and have an impact on topic X.
  • Which journal to send to?
  • Given his (known) name, journals will no longer reject due to unknown author.
  • ...

Of course you would not be the single author anymore and people might think that your co-author came up with the idea. How to deal with this topic depends on what you plan to do next: Do you want to go for an academic career? Do you say you don't care as long as people get to read your results, because you are only doing research in your free time and it will most likely be years until your next publication?

  • Thank you for your long answer. Would it somehow be possible that some people do not answer, instead they take your work or parts of it (knowing that you're unknown in the field) and use it for their own research?
    – Klangen
    Jun 6, 2017 at 12:57
  • 5
    @Pickle No, this won't happen. Most people you email will not read whatever you send them, and many will simply delete it. Jun 6, 2017 at 13:01
  • @AndrésE.Caicedo That gives very little chance of actually finding a contact/referee that is willing to take the time to converse with an "unknown"...
    – Klangen
    Jun 6, 2017 at 13:03
  • Yes, that might always be the case. However, you have to ask yourself: Why should they? If they work together with you, they get a publication with less effort (as you also do part of the work), if they publish it without you they will still get +1 on their publication count, but with more work on their end and they might end up with a law suit etc. So I would say that is rather rare. The case that @AndrésE.Caicedo mentioned is far more common, that is also why I advised you to try PhD students or young researchers, chances are a little higher that they will answer.
    – Dirk
    Jun 6, 2017 at 13:04
  • I do like the idea of looking for a mentor, and yes, a mentor can help by choosing which journal to submit to; but if your work is complete as is, there is no need to put the mentor's name on it as a co-author. The mentor could write a letter to the editor in support of your submission, without being a co-author. But you can also submit without a mentor. // Even if you find a mentor, you should yourself be doing literature review and you should be able to explain why your results are important and how they will impact X. // Try to find some seminars in which to interact with others. Jun 8, 2017 at 3:32

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