How do professional scientists report their experimental findings?
I’ve been asked to write a 500 word essay on this for a university supplement, I’m finding information quite hard to come by, does anyone have any links to information, or experience in this area?
If they want to make their findings available to the scientific community, they will draw up a paper describing their reason for doing the research, their experimental methods, their results and their conclusions. They will then submit that paper to a peer-reviewed journal.
Before the paper is published, the journal sends it to two or more reviewers, usually scientists working in the same field. The reviewers may point out flaws in the work or in the way the paper is written, or suggest how it could be improved. If any errors are found and they are not too serious the authors can usually re-write the paper and submit it again.
This is called the peer review process. It ensures that bad research work does not get published. The journals benefit from it because it gives them a reputation for reliability, which increases their readership, and that of course makes them more money. The journal pays the reviewers a fee for reviewing papers that have been submitted.
Reviewers can be as critical as they like of a paper that they receive for review, their job is to find errors in it, and many scientists take great pleasure in finding fault with another scientist’s work!
Many professional scientists work in industry of course. There the intention is usually to improve the company’s products, and research results are often kept secret.