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Thread: I'm an independent researcher, how can I get my work published?

  1. #1
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    I'm an independent researcher, how can I get my work published?

    Here in BAUT, and in many other internet discussion fora, you can easily find posts on the difficulty of getting independent astrophysics, planetary science, cosmology, etc research published. If you read such posts, you will find 1001 reasons why independent researchers can't get anything published in ApJ, MNRAS, etc.

    I thought it might be of interest to some BAUT readers to have a thread on what an independent researcher can do.

    First, there's the internet. For a very modest sum, plus some effort, you can register a domain name, and publish to your heart's content.

    Second, there are dozens of 'alternative' websites that would be only too happy to publish your work (provided they are within their stated domains, and provided that your research meets certain criteria; you need to be careful about copyright, of course).

    However, many independent researchers wish to get their work published in a peer-reviewed, mainstream journal, or at least somewhere where professional astronomers (etc) will read their work.

    Let's make this thread a resource for such people!

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    Let me kick this off with two suggestions, already available here in BAUT:

    1) dgruss23's Advice for ATM theory supporters. If I'm not mistaken, dgruss23 is an independent researcher who has had some of his work published, so his advice may be valuable.

    2) Tim Thompson's A General Discussion of the Alternative Approach.

    I should also mention that BAUT members Zanket and jaydee indicated, in posts here in this merged forum, that they were looking to establish a science publication medium independent of mainstream journals but still incorporating some kind of review and filterning process. I do not know how far along they have got with their venture (or ventures; I don't know if they are even in contact with each other!).

  3. #3
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    One more, for today.

    Physics Forums, where I am a SuperMentor, recently opened an Independent Research section, to cater specifically for independent researchers. They also have an Academic & Career Guidance section, and a very lengthy thread on the general topic of publication of material "Outside the Mainstream"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nereid
    Here in BAUT, and in many other internet discussion fora, you can easily find posts on the difficulty of getting independent astrophysics, planetary science, cosmology, etc research published. If you read such posts, you will find 1001 reasons why independent researchers can't get anything published in ApJ, MNRAS, etc.

    I thought it might be of interest to some BAUT readers to have a thread on what an independent researcher can do.
    Great idea!

    As part of this we should have tips on how to approach and cultivate a contact in the academic community who could help with getting them published as well as providing a critique of the work that they are trying to publish.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Fortis
    Great idea!

    As part of this we should have tips on how to approach and cultivate a contact in the academic community who could help with getting them published as well as providing a critique of the work that they are trying to publish.
    That part is very important. There are a number of ways to avoid sounding kooky! Particularly for an independent researcher, you will make your life easier if it is clear that you've done your homework as regards the state of the art and established data (and I have raked grad students over the coals for not catching this on the first round!). New ideas should be summarized clearly as well as concisely. As regards form of writing - yes, scientific prose is stilted and favors the subjunctive, but some of this is due to the very need for precision of expression. It doesn't hurt to peruse some papers in major journals to get the flavor of style and organization - it's fine to develop your own voice, but it also helps to see how things are often done. The NASA ADS not only indexes virtually the whle astronomical literature (and thereby rduces the chance of not knowing about something crucial to your topic), but links to full texts in most cases - and except for the last three years or so of most journals, anyone can get to them free, so this step has become much easier than when it required an academic library. I do note that most amateurs who have published in the professional journals start out in collaboration with professional astronomers, which certainly eases the way until such time as the amateurs may want to branch out and have "learned the ropes".

    I have observed that the quality of a research environment may be judged from the quality of criticism its members give each other. (I still need a thicker skin). Refereeing is not fun, but can save you from major blunders. The latest Physics Today recounts Einstein's one encounter with serious peer review - he didn't like it at all. Oddly enough, that was one time that he had made an error, which took some time to fix because he withdrew the paper and sent it elsewhere. [Edit to add: my graduate advisor told me to always look at a referee's comments, then stuff them in a desk drawer for three weeks until I can look at them dispassionately.]

    Many of the major journals in astronomical research do have page charges, normally expected to be paid by the author's institution or funding agency. The editors do have, and to my knowledge exercise, the ability to waive page charges for papers which pass muster, by individuals who are either working outside of institutional support or are in countries in which there are currency problems. Astronomy, unlike many other research fields, sees its technical literature concentrated in a handful of journals. These are the Astrophysical Journal, Astronomical Journal, and Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in the US; Astronomy and Astrophysics in Europe; Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society in the UK . A slightly changing cast of Russian and former-USSR-state journals, plus the Indian Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan, are also widely read and indexed. (Science and Nature run some fraction of astronomical papers as well, but astronomers will not pick up on these as automatically for a variety of treasons which are interesting, occasionally amusing, and irrelevent here). My perspective has been shaped by having my share of papers in most of these journals, plus a term on the publication board for one of the US journals. (If this makes me part of the conspiracy - one more delay in my monthy check and I spill the beans!)
    Last edited by ngc3314; 2005-Sep-18 at 05:42 PM.

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    Apeiron is a scientific journal devoted to alternative theories. Here are their instructions to authors.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ngc3314
    The NASA ADS not only indexes virtually the whle astronomical literature (and thereby rduces the chance of not knowing about something crucial to your topic), but links to full texts in most cases - and except for the last three years or so of most journals, anyone can get to them free, so this step has become much easier than when it required an academic library.
    And many of the papers from the last 3 years are also put on ArXiv which means that most papers are available for free. Its very rare to find a paper that cannot be accessed for free at one of these two sites.

    My perspective has been shaped by having my share of papers in most of these journals, plus a term on the publication board for one of the US journals. (If this makes me part of the conspiracy - one more delay in my monthy check and I spill the beans!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by ngc3314
    That part is very important. There are a number of ways to avoid sounding kooky!
    One way that I have found very effective is to pursue your (non-mainstream) research until it conflicts with statements made by an established expert. If you actually have a valid theory, then the expert must have made a mistake somewhere. Backtrack through their reasoning until you locate their mistake (your own theory is a handy guide to this). At that point, contact the expert and point out their mistake.

    Invariably, I have found, they will be surprised and grateful, and very interested in what you have to say--including a few of the details of your wacky theory. They will give you excellent advice, and you will often be surprised at how quickly they absorb your theory and even make observations about it off the cuff that you probably would have taken months to achieve.

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    Great thread. What about characters like me?

    Quote Originally Posted by ngc3314
    That part is very important. There are a number of ways to avoid sounding kooky!
    Optimist!


    Quote Originally Posted by ngc3314
    ... scientific prose is stilted and favors the subjunctive, but some of this is due to the very need for precision of expression.

    What about those who write in the subjunktive style? My hope is to find a way someone like me could present a presentable presentation. [/cornjunctive]

    Could you consider the formation of a BAUT team, or panel, to accept requests for review which could then be developed by a BAUT team with, and for, the author?

    I suppose the BAUT team participants would be co-authors in this sense if the paper became published. This would be a little different than Nereid's Physic's forum as it would require less formal initialization, and completion would be by the BAUT team. [Albeit, it was Nereid's link which got me wondering about this idea.]

    For example, it is very unlikely I would do a formal paper on the idea of determining "true" stellar color by spectral irradiance reproduction. For me, it is "too much squeeze for the juice" (I love that expression). I don't know how to discover if this is an original idea. I am not absolutely positive my math is correct. I am uncomfortable with any formal writing (I don't know what subjunctive means, even though I looked it up). I would also be more comfortable sharing in its success (assuming such), as I would not be alone in its defense or determining applications.

    A person with poor pedantic pedigree should have a place properly positioned to propel potentially powerful postulations. Sometimes the imagination of a clown can prove fruitful if someone is willing to overlook the facial makeup. But where does this character go, to whom does he/she turn to advance a sound idea to the level of scientific publication?
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by George
    (I don't know what subjunctive means, even though I looked it up).
    I wouldn't have said the subjunctive so much, as the passive voice. I see passive constructions ("The data were reduced" rather than "We reduced the data") in scientific writing a lot. My advisor asked for some help with one of his papers and offhand I suggested some sentences in active voice. He thought they sounded great--but he later changed them back, said they didn't sound scientific.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hhEb09'1
    I wouldn't have said the subjunctive so much, as the passive voice. I see passive constructions ("The data were reduced" rather than "We reduced the data") in scientific writing a lot. My advisor asked for some help with one of his papers and offhand I suggested some sentences in active voice. He thought they sounded great--but he later changed them back, said they didn't sound scientific.
    . You should try and be more passively aggresive but with subjunctive style. Of course, I barely have a clue to what I just said which is the reason for my request for a BAUT SciPaper Team.

    What do you think of the idea? [or should I say "my idea" to be not so passive ]
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by hhEb09'1
    I wouldn't have said the subjunctive so much, as the passive voice. I see passive constructions ("The data were reduced" rather than "We reduced the data") in scientific writing a lot. My advisor asked for some help with one of his papers and offhand I suggested some sentences in active voice. He thought they sounded great--but he later changed them back, said they didn't sound scientific.
    Yeah, passive is a better description. It's even harder to use the first-person singular, but I finally came to feel that it was so ridiculous to either imply a position as royalty, or possession of a major parasite or symbiotic entity, that I talked myself into writing that I, in fact, did something. But that's enough of a rarity that it still seems sort of jarring. I understand the value of removing personal stake as much as possible (I mean, it will still be there to some extent anyway), but there are plenty of instances of it obscuring some of what actually happened. One of my least-favorite phrases is "the data were reduced in the usual way", which could mean "Jeannette Barnes told us to push these buttons, so this is what came out".

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    Publishing on the Net. The World is your reviewer and they are all your peers!

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    Logic, while nice, does not cut the mustard. You will never be taken seriously unless you show the math.

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    Qualitative ideas are nessesary from imaginitive minds to provide material for the
    more linear quantitative minds to apply the maths.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanatos
    Logic, while nice, does not cut the mustard. You will never be taken seriously unless you show the math.
    Yes. Undoubtedly, you are correct. However, there may be exceptions to this.

    Let me try....
    S.P. ~ Final work necessary for Scientific Publication
    Pb ~ Force generated by BAUT team (per unit area of expertise); pressure
    Po ~ Force generated by original author (per unit area of expertise); pressure
    dV ~ Volumetric output

    S.P. = PbdV + PodV

    Will this generate interest in the idea? Now I'm the optimist . Too bad the cornjunctive approach has proved so limited.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  17. #17
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    I am an optimist too.

  18. #18
    I hope this post is still been read. How about people like me. A hobby of mine is to work out data on astronomical objects using published measurements. Using well established formula's nothing different interms of chaning the way we think the universe or a particular topic works.

    Is there a journal or a database that I could contribute to, its awfull to see all this go to waist. I am currently building a website for some of the more interesting objects that I have studied. I fear that it will take too long and it will not be peer reviewed or the information will never be used. It will just be another cosmetic site on the internet.

  19. #19

    Smile

    Hi Bigbluestar,

    The arXiv.org, which somebody suggested above, has been accused of having worse peer review than many journals, deeming any new idea from an outsider as "speculative" and rejecting it thus. D.R. Lunsford actually got his paper on extra-dimensional unification of general relativity and electromagnetism published in Int. J. Theor. Phys., v 43 (2004), No. 1, pp.161-177, and on the CERN Document Server at http://doc.cern.ch//archive/electron...t-2003-090.pdf, but it was REJECTED by arXiv.org simply because it contradicts speculative string theory (which is not founded on empirical fact and does not predict anything testable). Lunsford's work does have conclusions regarding the nature of quantum gravity and the cosmological constant, so it would embarrass the string theory community.

    So even if you undertake something really original, you have this problem.

    In fact you should have an easier time of it, if you are not trying to resolve really radical problems, but doing routine calculations. They can't really reject your calculations very easily for being speculative.

    Unfortunately you still have the problem that there might be a lot of other people doing similar work, or the same calculations might be duplicated elsewhere. Find out! Join in any group you can find on the internet, try sci.physics news groups, etc. If you have anything that is original, don't stand for people sneering at you for trying to do something new:

    'The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.' - George Bernard Shaw.

    ‘… the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them. Thus it happens that whenever those who are hostile have the opportunity to attack they do it like partisans, whilst the others defend lukewarmly…’ - http://www.constitution.org/mac/prince06.htm

    ‘(1). The idea is nonsense. (2). Somebody thought of it before you did. (3). We believed it all the time.’ - Professor R.A. Lyttleton's summary of inexcusable censorship (quoted by Sir Fred Hoyle in ‘Home is Where the Wind Blows’ Oxford University Press, 1997, p154).

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    How does one submit a paper to arXiv.org ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Diamond
    How does one submit a paper to arXiv.org ?
    You have to be approved. Contact the administrators of arXiv if you have a paper you'd like to submit. The contact information is on the website.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dgruss23
    You have to be approved. Contact the administrators of arXiv if you have a paper you'd like to submit. The contact information is on the website.
    Thanks for that. I have a solution to a problem in General Relativity (or more explicitly a solution to a problem which is explained by General Relativity) so I'd assume it was for gr-qc?

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    Reason

    Quote Originally Posted by Nereid
    Here in BAUT, and in many other internet discussion fora, you can easily find posts on the difficulty of getting independent astrophysics, planetary science, cosmology, etc research published. If you read such posts, you will find 1001 reasons why independent researchers can't get anything published in ApJ, MNRAS, etc.

    I thought it might be of interest to some BAUT readers to have a thread on what an independent researcher can do.

    First, there's the internet. For a very modest sum, plus some effort, you can register a domain name, and publish to your heart's content.

    Second, there are dozens of 'alternative' websites that would be only too happy to publish your work (provided they are within their stated domains, and provided that your research meets certain criteria; you need to be careful about copyright, of course).

    However, many independent researchers wish to get their work published in a peer-reviewed, mainstream journal, or at least somewhere where professional astronomers (etc) will read their work.

    Let's make this thread a resource for such people!
    I really am getting sick and tired of this self advertising on this site.
    A site constructed and devoted to, questions about science and Astronomy.
    That this site is hi-jacked to propagate a personal quest is anathema to
    those who choose this site to explore ideas and concepts of cosmology.
    Who wish to follow Phil Plait and his reason. I for one do,
    Ok ban me, who cares, my point above clear, you allow this at you peril.
    Nokton.

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    Nokton, I have no clue what you're talking about. Nereid wants people to be able to talk about their ideas, which is precisely why he started this thread. It isn't self-advertising, it's a helpful idea.

    And if it were self-advertising, what of it? Are we not allowed to promote ourselves here? I am one of the two administrators here, and I not only see nothing wrong with this topic, but I wholeheartedly support it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nokton
    I really am getting sick and tired of this self advertising on this site.
    and, in addition to what the BA said, the post you are responding to is over four months old.
    A site constructed and devoted to, questions about science and Astronomy.
    One of the original forums on the BA's site was devoted to non-mainstream ideas, probably because non-mainstream ideas generated a lot of discussion on the previous incarnation of the board.

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    Point taken

    Quote Originally Posted by The Bad Astronomer
    Nokton, I have no clue what you're talking about. Nereid wants people to be able to talk about their ideas, which is precisely why he started this thread. It isn't self-advertising, it's a helpful idea.

    And if it were self-advertising, what of it? Are we not allowed to promote ourselves here? I am one of the two administrators here, and I not only see nothing wrong with this topic, but I wholeheartedly support it.
    My apology to the forum, and Nereid in particular, false assumption and
    evaluation on my part. Thank you Phil for pointing out my mistake.
    I am also indebted to Nereid for replying to my last post, with the info
    I sought, says much about Nereid.....
    Nokton.

  27. #27
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    Nowadays getting a book published is a very rewarding thing and an easy way to get the word out. soyouwanna.com

    Next, you could just publish your work in some periodical. scientificamerica.com

    (but i think the periodicals keep all the publishing rights and i think they are supposed to be the original copywriters)

  28. #28
    One risk of publishing on the internet is that anyone can rip off your ideas. If a paper is accepted by arXiv.org, there is obviously more protection but apparently they don't accept "speculative" subjects. I thought you also have to be associated with an academic institution.

    So how does one protect authorship?

  29. #29
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    Nereid (and jimmarsen too),

    (First part deleted. I misread Nereid - thinking he was asking for advice, when he is actually an advice-giver. Sorry Nereid)

    Anyhow, I'm still in the stage of looking for a professional scholar to partner with, plus I still have yet to really get into the "search" stage. Nevertheless, here's something that I believe will help get a foot in the door. Jimmarsen's question is answered in point 2

    (1) Search through your bibliography (or the will-be bibliography) and get in contact with the your source (say, asking permission to use him or her as a source). But ONLY do this if you already have a more-or-less SOLID COMMAND of what you are doing - especially regarding methodology. In this way, you can ask him or her for helpful advice and even gain a little encouragement from interacting with the scholar.

    HOWEVER, before you do this, you have to have a solid grasp of methodology AND the "raw material/data" for your paper. Otherwise you risk coming off as, at best, an over-eager wannabe or even worse, a crank in the making.

    (2) AFTER you develop a well-developed draft...COPYRIGHT THAT DRAFT with the U.S. Copyright Office (if in the US, assuming you are in the US). When you finish what you think is a respectable level or research/methodology and have a draft that is essentially identical to your findings or assertions, do the following:

    (a)Go to www.copyright.gov and download an application for a Certificate of Regsitration (for me, it was Short Form TX - for a Nondramatic Literary Work. I suspect - but can't be sure - your work would be as such, too. Read the site thoroughly before you do anything.)

    (b) Send one (or is it two?) copies of your work to the Copyrigh Office

    (c) Send a $30 check to them (but check the fee carefully)

    Generally, you have to wait 4 to 6 months to get word on whether your work is approved, but this is just the expected time frame, not a guarantee.

    Assuming the USCO approves your copyright application get a copyright in the mail, this will not only make whomever will help you think twice before ripping off your work, it also provides something extra (and verifiable!!) for your resume.

    I was granted the copyright for the "rough-rough" draft in November, and now reworking the data and text so that it will be a respectable rough draft. If you can establish a good rapport with a scholar and ask him to read your work (this often takes months to do, again to give him time to judge if you are a truly legitimate amateur or a mere wannabe crank), then you can ask to partner with him or her. Good Luck with it. You may send me a message if you want, though I can't guarantee additional advice will be worth much.
    Last edited by filrabat; 2006-Mar-22 at 11:25 PM.

  30. #30

    re:

    paper is always less than your devoting. If you are able to survive. why not forget it?

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