An independent scholar is anyone who works outside traditional academia in the pursuit of truth and knowledge. The status of an independent scholar is often an amateur rather than a professional although this is not always a matter of choice. There is some debate about the acceptance of independent scholars, but their knowledge can be comparable to that of institutional scholars.

The history of independent scholarshipEdit

The origins of independent scholarship may be obscure but the human motivations that have led people to undertake it are not. Mobile and migrating, stay-at-home (especially the very young, the very old, invalid and women), socially adventurous and socially marginalized booklearners have had to make alternative plans for learning outside the mainstream throughout the course of human existence.

Acceptance of independent scholarshipEdit

Criteria on someone's source of income or academic standing have no prima facie application to how scholarly work should be evaluated. New ideas from outside the academic establishment do however often encounter resistance. If independent scholars publish their work in non-traditional places (anywhere outside learned journals, that is) they are open to attack for lack of peer review. This applies in particular to books. In the humanities, books generally carry more weight than papers; in the sciences the opposite is true. But in both cases there is an assumption that peer-reviewed work attracts greater respect, and is the actual foundation of what books in the subject contain.

An independent scholar must often become a memetic engineer, or propagandist in order to advance his or her contribution. Some are better at this than others. Good ideas can go unrecognised.

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Adapted from the Wikipedia article, "Independent scholar", used under the GNU Free Documentation License.