Freelance academics

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Fasil.pc 17:21, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

Getting connected[edit]

One of the more important things in doing academics is getting connected. These can provide a lot of professional support as well as personal support.

Online resources[edit]

Here are some locations for online networks

Joining organisations and societies[edit]

This is a good idea, improving the likelihood of being able to attend conferences and talks (in terms of cost and some being open to members only). It also allows networking with people working in the field in a professional capacity.

Conferences[edit]

Attending seminars and talks[edit]

Many university departments hold lunchtime seminars with an invited speaker - they are in my experience not strictly policed in terms of who is let in and allowed to debate. Talks may be put on by various societies and organisations which can be informative and allow networking.

This is a guide for people trying to do research and scholarship outside the traditional academic system. I'm using this to document my own efforts at doing this, and look forward to insights from people looking to do the same thing.

Roadrunner 16:16, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Why this document is necessary[edit]

This document is necessary because there are a lot of talented people out there in community colleges and industry, who really, really would like to do academic research. The purpose of this page is to create a support network and to provide the best information available.

Getting time[edit]

Time management[edit]

As you know there are a lot of things to do for you.

  • Check out what has most priority for you at the moment.
  • Plan your day.
  • Never forget to take time to change your activity regulary, even during the day.
  • Take time to read books about these themes.
  • Good tools and knowledge will always help you to improve.
  • Communicate about what you are doing. Maybe you get good hints.

Your day job[edit]

The hard part in being a freelance academic is not the money, it is getting time and social networks. Companies are not used to giving people time off to pursue their interests. ***Time*** is the hardest thing that you need from your day job.

One strategy which works in small companies is to become important enough to operations and then negotiate some time off each month. For bigger companies this is much harder since they generally have more inflexible human resources rules.

One thing that you will need to do very careful is to *read the fine print in any non-disclosure agreement* you may be asked to sign to make sure that you are not signing away any intellectual properties rights.

It is also useful to have a day job that has nothing to do with your academic interest. If your day job involves mechanical engineering, it is much easier to convince an employer not to assert claims against discoveries in biology than if your employer is actually doing biological work.

Examples of day jobs[edit]

Executives in Sales /marketing, Accounts executives, HR /Personnel Executives

Administrative staff[edit]

Community college teaching[edit]

Computer programming[edit]

Househusband/wife[edit]

Janitors[edit]

I've known people who have done this. The good thing about being a janitor is that its actually rather low-stress work with fixed defined hours. You don't end up interacting with people that often. The big problem is that the pay isn't very good, which isn't an issue if you are single and on your own, but it is a problem if you have a family to support.

Quantitative finance[edit]

Teaching[edit]

University of Phoenix[edit]

Adjunct community college faculty[edit]

This can be an effective solution in some instances but one must usually have at least a masters degree to teach here. There are exceptions, however, and it is possible for some to get jobs as adjunct faculty at a community college teaching several different subjects in which they have provable knowledge. The average pay is around $750 per credit hour which means that an adjunct faculty member would make about $2,250 for teaching 3 hours per week for an entire semester. While this may seem excellent, the average course load that a part-time adjunct faculty member can expect to get is around $6,750 per semester, or less that $14,000 per year. This means that teaching part time is usually not a viable option for all income, though it can help supplement income. Payment is per credit-hour taught and the professor can expect to easily work twice this amount preparing lesson plans, holding office hours, and doing other activities that are necessary such as grading homework and papers.

Research[edit]

Research Mentoring Program[edit]

Wikiversity's Research Mentoring Program provides mentoring resources for freelance academics, including a place where freelance academics can sign up to be mentors themselves. It also offers research certification.

Library services[edit]

The easiest way of getting library services is having a friend or spouse that has access to a university library.

For a fee, most university libraries will give you access to their collections. These programmes are usually called something like "research readerships." They often do not offer full access, I've had to combine my research readership at U of Toronto with help from active students there, but overall, the experience has been wonderful.

(need some other options)

Also with the advent of book stores like half.com and amazon.com, these are also available as de-facto libraries.

Most public libraries participate in inter-library loaning networks. One can get almost any book or journal article through this channel in a week or two, often for free. All that is required is that you furnish accurate citations for what you seek and that you return the materials when due.

Public librarians are often eager to help freelance researchers in other ways, so it pays to develop positive relationships with them.

Publishing[edit]

Cold calling[edit]

There is also a technique in e-mailing people to get professional contacts. In writing these e-mails, the important rule is that you have to show the person that you are contacting that you provide as much benefit to them as you are getting.

A very useful approach is to simply ask a question about a paper that the person you are e-mailing has done. For example it may be helpful to have a few questions for the person and generate them before you send e-mail or call them. It may also be helpful if you write or publish a newsletter whether online or off-line and are able to conduct an interview with that person. This can further increase your chances of connecting with them and conducting freelance academic research.

Follow the golden rule[edit]

If you start getting internet visibility, you will at some point start getting e-mail from people junior than you asking for advice and help. Treat those e-mails in exactly the same way that you want your e-mails to someone more senior to be treated.

Also, people asking for advice can often have some very useful contacts and information.

Carry a book around[edit]

Something that is surprisingly useful is to carry a book around about what you are studying. If you have a book on particle physics, this is a billboard saying that you are interested in particle physics, and you might attract the attention of the particle physicist that is sitting next to you on the airplane.

Help wanted[edit]

Links[edit]