I am not seeking a masters or PhD degree, but I would like to do a research paper and have it peer reviewed academically? Is this possible? If so, where and how to do it?

Addendum: Thank you for all your comments and answers. These have clarified many aspects to this project. I have several research projects to pursue. The one where I would need the most specific direction would be the following.

Feasibility of using mosquitoes for large scale inoculation and/or medication of mammal (hopefully human) populations. We all know how effective these insects are as vectors for spreading disease. There is no reason I can think of why this ability cannot be exploited for said positive benefit.

I approached a local pharmaceutical firm about the research project but have not received any response. I don't think most pharmaceutical firms would be interested in this research unless they can figure out a way to eventually get compensated for the gratis mass distribution of their pharmaceuticals if the project goes beyond research and successfully applied. Although these and other challenges are significant, none are practically insurmountable and can be resolved. The potential benefit from eventual application of the project should make the research worthwhile. Indeed, part of the research would be the cost/benefit analysis from several perspectives.

I have searched on the Internet and have not found such a project. I have found some information on genetically engineering mosquitoes for faux mating to eliminate mosquito populations such as this one .

Genetic engineering should not be necessary for said project since we are utilizing the already natural modus operendi of this insect, but another aspect of the research would be the potential benefit of GE for said goal. one would be marking the mosquitos genetically to distinguish from the rest; making them glow maybe.

I hope spelling out the specifics of the research didn't compromise the scope of topic for this forum. If so, I welcome comments from moderators as to which SE site may be more appropriate. Thank you for your comments and answers. I look forward to reading more.

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    It would be helpful if you could name the area/field of research and your affiliation, if any, with any research institution.
    – Walter
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 8:48
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    For better understanding: Do you want to publish that research paper or do you want to write a scientific work and "get it graded/commented/reviewed"?
    – skymningen
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 9:19
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    Yes. Somewhat duplicate of academia.stackexchange.com/questions/385/… Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 13:01
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    I wrote an excellent answer to this question and posted it to a QA site not affiliated with Stack Exchange. It's on a piece of paper on my wall. Unfortunately that means it's unlikely to be peer reviewed and up/down voted.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 9:04
  • If your proposed research involves human subjects, or even animal (mammal?) subjects, in most countries you'd need some sort of prior approval from governmental agencies that regulate such things. In the U.S., for example, it is highly non-trivial to obtain such approval, or even to remain within bounds of legality, perhaps even to avoid criminality... Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 0:37

5 Answers 5


It's not impossible, but in this day and age it is extremely rare for individuals unaffiliated with research institutions (academic or commercial) to successfully publish scientific research papers on their own (without research-institute affiliated co-authors) in good journals (bogus journals publish almost anything for a fee).

The main reasons are that in order to pursue cutting edge research, one usually needs

  1. access to all relevant publications;
  2. regular exchange of ideas with other researchers;
  3. access to hardware (for performing the research tasks).
  4. a living and financial support for the research (including possible publication charges)

Points 1&2 are more fundamental, since if you don't know where the cutting edge of research in a particular field is (or don't know the relevant terminology), then you cannot contribute.

I should also note that there are quite a few unsuccessful manuscript submission from unaffiliated persons, but many are often not even considered for peer review by the journal editors for two possible reasons: (1) because the manuscript does not appear to meet the standards and (2) because the editor strongly suspect it doesn't, because of the author's affiliation. So there is another potential hurdle: editorial bias.

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    Just as a one data point (partial) counterpoint: I have published unaffiliated single author papers in very good journals, with all research performed without an affiliation's resources, and with no underlying grants (or support at all, basically; I don't recommend this). But I also have a Ph.D. in my field, and have published papers previously while having an affiliation, so I have both knowledge of how to perform and format research, as well as at least a minimal positive reputation for reputable research backing up my name. Being Dr. Unaffilated with a CV helps. Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 13:41
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    @zibadawatimmy You essentially did not have the barriers mentioned in 1 & 2 of my list.
    – Walter
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 17:18
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    @Walter I did say it was a partial counterpoint. Early in my career I did not have those obstacles, which gives long term benefits for sure, but these days for (1) I rely 80% on arxiv, 19% on other free web sources, .9% on e-mailing authors, and .1% on other. For (2) I have no recent conference attendances, as I can't afford them, so I have virtually no contact with new researchers. But the glory of e-mail allows me to communicate with the few researchers I already know. But point being, being an unaffiliated solo author is not automatically a death knell, at least if you don't start out so. Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 18:08
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    Also more and more journals go open access, so access to a significant amount of relevant publications is now much better than it was. The problem is probably more if experimental work needs to be done. A particle accelerator might be a bit out of budget. But inventing the self driving car (if you already have one) might be within reach. Doing some chemistry at home (if you know what you are doing) to synthesize for example a new dye might also be possible. There might even be facilities that can be rented. Doing research without getting paid for it and the tools is very hard, but possible. Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 19:47
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    Points 1, 2, and 3 are bogus. Point 4 is of paramount importance. Without money, almost everything is difficult. With money, all obstacles can be overcome.
    – emory
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 20:58

I'm not sure about a Thesis, since there you need to have the backing of an Academic Institution as far as I am aware.

But as far as a research paper is concerned, you could get the support you need from within any organisation which invests a decent amount of resources in Research and Development. Organisations such as Microsoft in IT publish papers under Microsoft's name.

I think it depends largely on your area and organisation.

  • Do industry R&D departments hire anyone who isn't either a PhD or maybe a grad student intern?
    – Ray
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 23:00
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    Absolutely. Not having formal schooling isn't a bar at any of the top tech orgs- unless the area you apply in can only reasonably be learned in school. As an example, don't expect to get hired into the quantum computing group if you only have a high school diploma, however you might get hired as an intern if you've won a regional science fair, with a project that dealt with quantum computing, then that company may elect to send you to appropriate courses (which may or may not end in a degree)
    – Jim B
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 23:57
  • Remaining within the IT arena, a case example is Blockchain. Many people are without real experience in the matter but people who have a basic idea in Business, IT and / or software engineering have excellent opportunities if they prove potential.
    – DottoreM
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 12:00

I would like to do a thesis or research paper and have it peer reviewed academically? Is this possible? If so, where and how to do it?

Can you do the research all on your own?

If yes, go right ahead with writing a research paper on your own in your own home and send it to the editor of a scientific peer-reviewed journal you deem appropriate for the content. Follow the author guidelines and under affiliations just insert your own address. It's probably a good idea to follow the style of other scientific publications. If the editor and the reviewers deem your research paper good enough you'll get a peer-reviewed research paper. If it gets rejected, you can still submit it somewhere else. In principle, there is no difference between being a private person or coming from a prestigious science factory (although in practice there might be some difference).

A thesis is usually a requirement for an academic degree. Since you are not interested in academic degrees I advice you not to pursue a thesis (which would also likely require some studies before), but concentrate on research papers.

You cannot do the research all on your own?

Contact a suitable person, research group leader, ... state your interest in a collaboration and negotiate as a goal the writing of a research paper. If you can find someone, do your part and give your home address as affiliation when writing the paper.

It may be harder to write a research paper on your own than when being employed as a scientist but it is also not forbidden and the process of getting the paper peer-reviewed and published is exactly the same.

P.S. Some journals charge you for the publication of a research paper with them. If you do the research and publication on your own, you'll have to pay these fees. In you are in a collaboration, your partners from academia will likely pay these fees, so this might be the cheaper variant.

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    I disagree with the "usually" in relation to journals charging. This might be the norm in some fields, but is practically unheard of in others. Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 15:21
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    @TobiasKildetoft Okay, in my field they usually charge. Changed. Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 15:22

It can also depend (as others have said) on what governing bodies or institutions play a role in your field. In my field, a dominant accrediting body has strict guidelines and ethical bylaws covering field research. You have to submit your proposal and consent forms to a board before even getting their blessing to go ahead with the research (and part of being in compliance is being accredited aka a postgrad degree). If not you'll be automatically rejected. You could probably do a meta-study or survey without it in this field, but no hard research.

I like Trilarion's answer best though. Worst comes to worst you write a kickass paper and don't get published. That would only put you in the same boat as almost all degree and non-degree holders out there.


I am going to assume that you have access to a strong set of journals through an academic library and that you have more than sufficient resources to carry out the research. If that is the case, then yes you can do it on your own. Your greatest challenge is the challenge a person with a doctorate faces when doing research outside their discipline, which is reading and understanding the literature.

For my own work, I found myself at the edges of my discipline and in the edges of another discipline. In the end, I took graduate courses to do catch up. I needed to learn about Borel tribes, Greenian functions, analytic functions in the complex plane and the residue around a singularity or pole. Without professional guidance, I would have probably come to the wrong conclusions. There are little things in the literature that turn out to be big deal, but they are not prominent in the literature because everyone with a doctorate in the field knows about them.

As you move up the literature of a field you get further and further away from an undergraduate level of discussion. Because academic papers are judged, in part, on the observed writing level of the author, you may have a limited ability to avoid being "desk rejected."

Desk rejection is a journal editor's tool to prevent low-quality articles from reaching reviewers. It also prevents high-quality articles, that also would not be of interest to the journal's audience, from reaching reviewers. You cannot just send your papers to any journal, they have to match what the audience is looking for.

If I were you, I would go back to a professor I had in college and tell them what you are wanting to do. I would ask for some time to talk about what the research is, why you are motivated to do it, and what obstacles you are likely to encounter. The bulk of research is planning. The actual results and so forth take up very little time usually.

There are a couple of advantages to this. First, your research may already have been done. It may even have been done repeatedly. Second, you may find that there are known problems in the field that researchers spend a lot of time accounting for that you know nothing about.

Let's imagine your data normally suffers from heteroskedasticity, you cannot just run some computer program to correct for it because you will need to know which type of computer program to run for it. Heteroskedasticity is caused by different things. You may have a functional form for it, or you could have to use something like ARCH or GARCH.

If your type of data is known to suffer from heteroskedasticity and you do not address this in your paper then you are going to be desk rejected because you obviously don't know enough about your field for anyone to take the time to carefully look at the paper.

Yes, you can submit a paper for peer review, but you will be held to graduate level standards. If you decide to do this, go get help first. Even if this is research in history, get help. If your thesis is far away from the field because it already considered your idea and discarded it, then unless you have amazing new raw data, such discovering a treasure trove of new letters by Robert E. Lee, then you will also get desk rejected.

Sincerely, I wish you the best of luck and go get support from someone.

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