A large number of students worldwide apply for a PhD. Some are enthusiastic about research; some wants to earn a higher degree for their career growth and few, unfortunately, opts the path just because sometimes getting into a PhD is easier than getting a job. While so many students just wait for the “opportunity” to get enrolled in a PhD. program, preparing to get through the entrance exam/interview, a few have already started with their independent research, already on a path to explore their interests.

Today, we talk with one such personality, Mr. Isaac Gendler. Gendler is an independent researcher and a blogger. He is writing one blog each day from the last 4 years and has more than 1,600 blogs posted till now. He started writing during his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and slowly developed an interest in climate change adaptation.

What is it being an independent researcher?

In a talk with Advaita services, Gendler told about what it is like to be an independent researcher. During his undergraduate studies in California, Gendler got intrigued about the increase in the frequency of wildfire in the northern California and the skyrocketing housing crisis. Shocked by the lack of any research or review article on the intersection of these two phenomena, he decided to start a research paper on the effects of the Bay Area housing crisis on wildfire vulnerability. You can find more information about this here. This is how Gendler found his love for research.

He spends most of his day researching, reading, learning, and writing and has published undergraduate work at the American Solar Energy Society Conference. Gendler’s persistent writing on climate change and social concerns has given him opportunities to work with Abundant Housing Los Angeles on the side, supporting him financially while he does further research.

Being an independent researcher is definitely not easy. You have to look for funds and you do need someone’s guidance at times. He discusses his ideas with his new co-authors Professor Marccus Hendricks of the University of Maryland and William Mobley of Texas A&M Galveston. This becomes critical at times since we do get blind to our own mistakes.

Another important thing, Gendler says, is keeping yourself regularly updated. You must have a curiosity to learn more every day. Gendler attends various societies, training sessions and volunteers in groups to keep himself well informed. An independent researcher, unlike a PhD. can’t keep his/her focus on just research. You must consider taking side projects/ freelancing so as to minimize the risks (there is always a chance you don’t get published and the time you devoted to the research looks wasted). Gendler thus uses his research and writing skills for part-time projects.

Not just a passion to follow but a career booster as well

Being an independent researcher is not just something you do only when you are crazy for research or as a hobby. It builds your career as well. After your college, while you look for PhD. opportunities you can start pursuing your independent research. Don’t just wait for an acceptance letter in order to start working and building your portfolio. Instead, now is the time. Look for ideas, seek guidance, attend training sessions, learn, and gradually build your resume.

Some tips on your path to being an independent researcher

  • Define your research question: Talk to people, attend conferences, read scientific articles and look for a question you want to answer.
  • Funding: Lack of funding is a big disadvantage of being an independent researcher. You however can work on side-projects, freelance, or sometimes may have to rely on your part-time job to fund your research. You can also apply for funding as well. Here are some tips to help you write a funding application.
  • Build networks: Since an independent researcher has no supervisor to guide, it is very much essential to build a network. Build collaborations across different research groups, institutes and colleges. Connect with researchers on social media. Stay updated and seek guidance.
  • Grab the opportunities: Although the ultimate aim is to publish in a good journal but never leave any opportunity such as a conference to present your work. It will help you build a profile and might help you become recognizable within your research community.

PS. While you engage yourself in research, Advaita helps you write in a perfect academic language. Write us at enquiry@advaitaservices.in to know more about the academic editing and proofreading services we provide.