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submariner's avatar

For academics: what do you think when you see "independent scholar" in a conference program?

Asked by submariner (4145 points ) December 21st, 2011

For those of you who are or have been or hope to be employed as faculty in higher education, what do you think when you look in the program for a conference and see that a presentation on a topic that interests you is being offered by someone who is not affiliated with any institution or organization?

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7 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

There are too many different kinds of independent scholar for me to make judgments in advance on that basis. I also have too much respect for Elaine Morgan to think that independent scholars are necessarily crackpots. Besides, I’m in a field that was basically founded by independent scholars. Socrates was an illiterate stonemason, Spinoza was a lens grinder, and Hume was a librarian.

janbb's avatar

My brother was one for several years after his PhD before he landing an academic job. In that time, he published several books. I guess I am biased.

Bellatrix's avatar

Like the two previous posters, I know some amazing ‘independent scholars’ who have produced highly respected work. One of them I am thinking of is a historian who has done some amazing research in the field of Aboriginal wages. I would hope I would judge their work on its merit rather than their independent status.

WestRiverrat's avatar

He or she usually turns out to be the most entertaining speaker of the conference. If they were not somewhat entertaining and literate in their field, they could not continue to be independant scholars.

incendiary_dan's avatar

I myself and several friends have fit into this category. Generally, it’s harder for us to get such gigs, so I assume that they had to have wowed someone to get it.

cazzie's avatar

I would make sure to google the person to see what angle they are coming at the topic before I realise, sitting there, that it was a waste of time. I am often surprised where people like this come from and what they share. TED talks is a good example of wonderful speakers from all sorts of backgrounds.

submariner's avatar

Thanks for your responses. I find them encouraging.

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