Establishing as an Independent Scholar (query)

Robert Siegel's picture

Hello, everyone!  I have a history degree and have worked at local historical societies. Currently, I am administrating in the central office of an urban school district. I enjoy my job but want to expand as an independent scholar.

Specifically, I want to write articles, present papers and review books. Over ten years ago, I did the first two and enjoyed it.  I would also like to network with other Independent Scholars.

What do you suggest?

Robert A. Siegel

Baltimore City Public Schools

I would strongly encourage you to join two organizations: the American Historical Association and the National Coalition of Independent Scholars. The AHA is welcoming to independent scholars, and has a broad array of resources and opportunities to tap into for presenting work, writing, and reviewing books. At the AHA, you'll connect with historians working in a variety of contexts - from academia to museums to K-12, etc. You might start there. The NCIS is a group dedicated specifically to independent scholars and likewise has some excellent resources for all of what you're looking for. I hope this helps.

Becky Nicolaides
Independent scholar and member of AHA Council, Research Division

Dear Mr. Siegel,

I suggest that you consider becoming a member of the National Coalition of Independent Scholars, which is the sponsor of H-Scholar. You will find information about NCIS on the H-Scholar home page. They publish a journal, The Independent Scholar; hold national conferences; and offer opportunities for networking.

Joanne Lafler

The National Coalition of Independent Scholars ( is a great address for you. It has an excellent journal, The Independent Scholar, whose general editor walks on water.

Shelby Shapiro, Ph.D.
General Editor, The Independent Scholar

Hello, Dr. Shapiro! I exchanged emails with the membership officer of the NCIS on Tuesday and will candidate for membership shortly.

I LOL'd to read your compliment about the General Editor of their journal. Then I saw that it was you!

Doors are opening for me through H-NET.

I would be glad to participate in the NCIS.

Take care,
Robert A. Siegel

Hi, Robert

Don't give up your day job until you have a definite path forward as an IS! Also, before you commit yourself, make sure that as an independent scholar you will have resources to the materials you need for the project you want to carry out. The biggest concern I hear from all scholars who don't happen to the on the faculty of a research university (not necessarily just independent scholars) is the difficulty in obtaining access to online research repositories. If you are interested in working on the history of education, your current job might be very helpful in this regard as many districts have professional libraries/media services and records collections.

I was planning to recommend the Versatile PhD website, but that has become problematic for reasons that will be evident in the next post to H-Scholar. Here are two other resources you might find helpful:

The web portal "Beyond the Professoriate" has a fee for many of its services but there is a free blog here:

The "Inside Higher Ed" website provides all sorts of career advice. In particular, the "Alt-Ac careers" section has some helpful articles at .

There is also a blog post by Sabine Hikel entitled "Leaving Academia" here:

The "Leaving Academia" website also contains helpful information.

The website includes a blog post "publishing your work"

This seems to have been borrowed from a chapter in a manual written by Franca Iacovetta and Molly Ladd-Taylor entitled "Becoming a Historian," published by the Canadian Historical Association

On writing and presenting papers, this very network, H-Scholar, has searchable logs and if you search on "how-to help" you will find some useful information. See also the "Articles and Journals of Interest" which is a small selection of permanent articles re-published with permission at

If you are interested in becoming a reviewer, check with relevant H-Net lists--some of them publish reviews regularly and are always looking for qualified reviewers. You should also send a cv with a cover letter introducing yourself and saying you would like to review to any journal that regularly publishes articles in your fields of specialty. However, the most prestigious journals in your field are likely to turn first to authors of books reviewed in their own pages to find their reviewers for other works.

Conference calls for presenters are listed regularly on H-Announce, and most lists that focus on a particular field will re-post them.