I'm not affiliated with a physics department and I want to do independent research. I'm working my way through Peskin et al. QFT now. Let's say that I've finished Peskin et al. and Weinberg QFT books and want to do some independent research on phenomenology although I don't have a specific topic in mind. Would I be prepared for doing research at this level? Where should I start? Should I just begin reading papers until I figure out current unanswered problems in the field? What journal would accept my paper provided that It doesn't have scientific errors and well-written?

Can some-one knowledgeable in these topics give me an advice? I didn't go to graduate school so I don't know how one usually do research in particle physics. EDIT: Can I just visit a physics department and seek advice from some-one working on the field who can also give me an endorsement so that I can publish my papers on arXiv?

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    $\begingroup$ You might be able to find a local university that has seminars or colloquia that are open to the public so you can get a flavor for current research topics. Though I would be careful not to be a nuisance. Generally people are open to talking to people from outside the department or field about their research, but if you are spending an hour after the seminar annoying the speaker with crackpot ideas, or eating all the cookies, they might ask you not to come back. You can always contact the department prior to see what sorts of things are open to the public. $\endgroup$
    – DJBunk
    Nov 28, 2012 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ Without a formal affiliation you cannot post papers in ArXiv even if you got endorsement. $\endgroup$
    – juanrga
    Nov 28, 2012 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ thanks all for responses ,I'll do my best to join a graduate school which is not possible at the moment but until then is there a journal specialized in particle phenomenology that can accept my papers ? I've heard that independent research can be very important for some-one applying for grad school? $\endgroup$
    – Bob
    Nov 28, 2012 at 19:17
  • $\begingroup$ My other questions are not answered though , Can I do significant research after I finish reading peskin QFT and Weinberg QFT ? I know of TASI lectures . What else should I know before tackling research? What are open problems etc. I don't want to do strings. Just phenomenology $\endgroup$
    – Bob
    Nov 28, 2012 at 19:21
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    $\begingroup$ Unfortunately there is no real source to determine open questions in science. What is open and what isn't depends on who you ask. Occassionally there are areas where we can identify a specific gap in our understanding, but more often true research both identifies the gap and fills it at the same time. As to whether or not you are ready for independent research, I would say it depends on what you want to research. Don't worry about whether or not you are ready, just research what you want and, when you don't understand something, you will know you need to study more. $\endgroup$ Dec 13, 2012 at 14:06

2 Answers 2


There are usually no formal restrictions on who can publish in a journal. But, for a paper to be published, it has to be read, reviewed, and edited. The reason journals usually expect some sort of creditation is to avoid having to dredge through the work of people who don't know what they're talking about.

It is true that most people have no desire to be published in a scientific journal, but the draw is big enough that journals get plenty of crack-pot submissions. The big name journals are more prone to this, and will be more likely to reject unaccredited authors out of hand. If you want to get published without co-authors and without going to grad school, your best bet would be to focus on a small journal serving a small topical area.

That being said, whatever your goal, your best bet would be to work with a professor. For anyone who is serious about pursuing upper-level academic research, a graduate program is a first step. But, if you just don't have the time for graduate school (money shouldn't be a problem as these programs are usually paid for), you should at the very least communicate with a couple of professors who specialize in your particular field of interest. Granted, professors are busy people too, and will likely be hard to get ahold of around mid-terms and finals, but if you show yourself to be serious, intelligent, knowledgeable, and passionate, you will likely find them to be friendly and helpful people.


I will complete @AdamRedwine 's good advice by:

Try to be close to a large laboratory which supports particle physics. Every week there will be lectures on various subjects, experimental, phenomenological, theoretical. These are open to all , so try to attend as many as you can. This will accomplish two things: if you ask intelligent questions people will start to know you and secondly you will get a feel of the real research and how it is conducted, even if not in a group/program. It will be easier to approach professors or researchers if they know you from the lectures.


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