I'm about to embark on a research project in complex systems on my own spare time. It seems like the idea I have is a good one. However, it would be better, for obvious reasons, to have an experienced person guide me. What are the chances that a university professor would agree to guide me while I try and churn this out? (Obviously, I want it to be as professional as possible).
If I don't get anyone on board, what are my chances of publishing, or at least getting a pat on the back from admissions committees when I apply for graduate school? Do they appreciate this kind of thing?
If you have no research experience, it will be hard to convince any professional scientist to invest in you. Perhaps there is a team of enthusiasts in your community (or even online) who are happy to embark on projects?
Today's networking opportunities increase your leverage massively in finding like-minded people on the net, via blogs, joint software development etc. At some point, you may try and visit workshops of relevant topics, even just for visiting and meeting people and there you may find some suitable contacts.