7 Knowledge Sharing

  • What tools do we have to share our knowledge?
  • What could we develop that would help us find more ways to share our knowledge?
  • What does scholarship and being a scholar look like outside of the academy?

Scholarship Outside of the Academy

One key fear I hear from folks who are worried about leaving academia is that they really don’t want to lose their institutional affiliation and their library access.

I get it. It feels like a lifeline for scholars to be connected to the information we’ve always had. That said, I think it underscores the larger problems we have in the academy around isolation and keeping people away from the deep knowledge.

We are not exiles, we are still researchers and scholars. So how can we continue to be connected to the knowledge and to contribute to knowledge?

Below are a series of assorted resources to help you find the way forward. Library access without institutional affiliation is hard to get. Research Access is a challenge.

Direct Library Access

  • Some Universities will allow Alumni to access their library system. It’s worth at least asking the alumni association for your alma mater, particularly if they’re doing a capital campaign, you can push them towards letting you have access.
  • JSTOR allows access for some Alumni
  • Alums from the University of California System can get library cards
  • Check out your local public universities and local colleges and request access as a community member. These can sometimes be inexpensive, but usually they also will at least allow you to browse books and databases.
  • Public libraries are getting more and more digital, make sure you check in to your local library as well, while they may not have all of the journals you might want, they may have access to inter library loan books or even ebooks of texts you might want.

Some association memberships will also give you library access: - Organization of American Historians (OAH)
- American Academy of Religion offers some access. - National Coalition of Independent Scholars (NCIS) provides access at a reduced cost to Jstor to members


Some communities will enable informal journal article swaps or peer exchanges. - Several groups I am involved with such as the AAAS Alumni groups regularly allow one another to circulate requests for pdfs of journal articles among those who still have access to university journal databases. - Consider requesting such pdfs from people you know who are still with institutions. - The hashtag #icanhazpdf on Twitter will help you get articles. - You can also email the author and see if they’d be willing to send it to you. They probably want you to read (and cite!) their article.

University Affiliation

  • Network with your nearby universities and see if they might be willing to let you affiliate with the university in exchange for speaking to a class, delivering a brown bag lecture or otherwise contributing to the intellectual community. > Words you can use to describe this: visiting scholar, designated campus colleague, research affiliate, research assistant professor.

  • It’s mostly about paperwork and connections to people who will sponsor you to do this work. If you know someone who trusts you at a university it makes it easier.
  • If you belonged to a research group during your PhD, your supervisor might have the ability to continue your library access through affiliation.
  • This can be an easy request to add on to existing adjunct work. “I will do this one class if you will give me research affiliation for the next academic calendar”
  • Some people I know take the cheapest “informal class” offered by the large local public university, as this gives them student access to the library resources.
  • Check alternative education opportunities such as community colleges or even underground universities such as Portland Underground Graduate Studies.

Open Access

Open Access and the Open movement as a whole has been key in helping to create more access for researchers outside of academic environments.

Open projects highlight the benefit of openness as a mindset. If we believe that all people should be able to have access to information, as many folks in library and academic circles do, why would we limit access to knowledge?

Subject Repositories

These are a growing way for researchers to share their emerging projects and data. I’ve also found that it’s a great way to share my mostly baked but not accepted papers that I don’t want to leave languishing on my hard drive.

Books & Online Libraries

  • Open Library - “Our goal is to provide a page on the web for every book ever published.”
  • Internet Archive - "a nonprofit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites and more.
  • Project Gutenberg- “A library of over 60,000 free eBooks”
  • Hathi Trust - Books and digitized titles online

More Resources

Independent Scholars?

Should we reconsider the phrase “Independent Scholar”? What if we were to refer to ourselves instead as “Scholars” or simply people who practice in our field?

“Outside of academe, this terminology makes no sense. There are no”independent lawyers" or “independent businesswomen,” because what would that even mean? They are simply lawyers and businesswomen, whether they work for themselves, for small firms, or large corporations." - (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

I sometimes refer to myself as a social scientist and a researcher. There is no reason I need to identify by a lack of affiliation, I’ve still got a degree in sociology.

Some like the idea of being a “public scholar” because it shows that you want to serve the public.

Resources for Independent Scholars

Media for Post Academics

We crowdsourced ideas for the kind of media environments that are interesting, engaging and which have a lean towards academic-minded conversations.

You could use this list to find interesting reading, think about new ideas or as places to pitch your writing or start up your twitter follow list!