I graduated with a B.S. degree and I have been working in industry for a few years as a software engineer. I am very interested in reinforcement learning, a sub-field of machine learning, and I am interested in performing research and publishing a paper on that topic.
The problem is, in my city there are no professors working in this field (or related fields) who could help me. I contacted other professors in different cities and they rejected my help request for a variety of reasons (such as I am not their student, they don't know me, they are busy, etc.).
Still, I want to perform research and publish a paper. I can't attend school as a full time student and my collaboration requests were not successful. Given all that, how can I publish by myself?
- How to choose a research topic?
- Should I read all the papers on this field?
- How to decide which problem to work on or which is not obsolete? I don't want to work on something which no one is interested in.
- Should I read and study all the prerequisite material, or fill in the gaps during research efforts?
I can't comment on the later issues—they are too general for the scope of a single question.
To address the first issue, yes, it is possible to publish without a professor. People at corporations and small companies publish all the time without academic collaborators (and without PhD level staffers). The challenge is having a topic that is worth publishing, and finding an appropriate venue to publish it in.