Where to formally submit a theory?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by cosmictotem, Feb 14, 2012.

  1. cosmictotem Registered Senior Member

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    Does anyone know where I would formally submit a theory I have about the Universe? How do people get proper credit for such theories if they prove to be validated? I'm mean, if you throw a unique theory on the Internet is that just inviting people to take it and run away with it? How does science keep track of who thought of what?
     
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  3. skaught The field its covered in blood Valued Senior Member

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    Just e-mail the entire theory to me! I'll take care of it all for you

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  5. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    You have to publish in a legitimate scientific journal.
     
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  7. cosmictotem Registered Senior Member

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    Ha! Well, at least you value what I might have so that's a compliment. Thanks!

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  8. cosmictotem Registered Senior Member

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    Hmm...so if I just email it to a sci journal they may investigate my theory closer if it proves intriguing?
     
  9. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    The formal path is to submit to a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

    If there is a clear record of publication, then people will agree on who has priority on a new discovery. All you need to do is look at the journals.

    Probably. You have copyright over your specific words and form of expression. But you can't copyright an idea.

    If you want to publish informally, then you could post your theory to a number of different sites on the internet. For example, if you posted it here, your post would be time-stamped with the time you posted it. If your theory later led to the Nobel committee awarding the Nobel Prize for Physics, then there would be a record here that you posted your idea first.

    It would be a much better idea to publish formally in a peer-reviewed journal, though.
     
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  10. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    No.

    They will send your paper to (usually) three referees who are experts in the field that your paper discusses. Those referees will evaluate your idea and paper and advise the editors as to whether it is suitable for publication. That means they will check to see if your paper has any errors, whether it fits the criteria the journal requires for publication and so on.

    The referees will not directly repeat any experiments you have done or do any further work based on your theory. Their job is only to make sure that your theory is not rubbish or full of errors.

    It is after publication that interested scientists might choose to persue and test your theory experimentally.
     
  11. Hercules Rockefeller Beatings will continue until morale improves. Moderator

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    If you have no experimental validation then you don’t have a theory, you have a hypothesis. Lots of people have hypotheses; that’s not saying very much.


    Take some quantitative data/observations (derived from either your own experimentation or from others) and use your hypothesis to explain the data. If your hypothesis can offer a better explanation of the observed phenomenon than existing theoretical frameworks, then you’ll be in a good position to submit your work to a peer-reviewed journal for publication. That is how you will be credited with the discovery.
     
  12. cosmictotem Registered Senior Member

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    This helped a lot. I probably have nothing but it's good to know the procedure finally.
     
  13. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    If your first concern is to protect a right, then copyright and patent pretty much cover that. You probably already know this, and the process is not hard to learn.

    If your concern is to validate an idea, you would normally need to have some way of validating it yourself. Otherwise just throw a piece of it into a forum and let the wolves tear it to shreds. That will get you started.

    Journals are generally going to be looking for high standards of quality similar those established for the doctoral dissertations at a university. Every fact carried forward would need to be cited from its authoritative source, which means you would already be familiar with the relevant physics pertaining to this topic from the journals you might approach. Typically the PhD candidate has spent years reading before qualifying, and the topic must produce a result that is both innovative and useful. There is some flexibility here, for example, it is possible to synthesize a new result simply by integrating two previously published ideas. In reality, even small papers today often synthesize 100 ideas into the result. Additionally, where an experiment is involved, you gain some ground if you produce new and unusual results (by bona fide methods, and repeatably). But you will have a tough row to hoe, and you should expect a thorough scouring, if your paper appears to overturn established science.

    So other than journals? A university, possibly a corporate sponsor, freelance, or open presentation such as here in a forum, those are the avenues I can think of.
     
  14. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

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    Hang on, so all the resurch we relie on because its published is in reality compleatly unverified? (except maybe cochrane which is meta resurch)
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2012
  15. Hercules Rockefeller Beatings will continue until morale improves. Moderator

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    Ahhh, I think this is a difference between physics and the other hard science fields in that physics seems to have a theoretical sub-field. So maybe what I said above isn’t exactly true for the cosmology and astrophysics fields. In the biological sciences there isn’t much purely theoretical work; it’s essentially all experimentally and observationally driven.
     
  16. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    No. First of all, the person publishing the research has presumably done some work. If the research is experimental, then the results will be published, along with the details of the methods used so that other scientists can replicate the experiments themselves.

    Not every piece of research is duplicated by somebody else. As a rule of thumb, the more significant the results (or groundbreaking), the more likely it is that others will jump on the same bandwagon and try to replicate and extend the previous research.

    Theoretical publications are different. If a result is purely theoretical, then any glaring errors will usually be picked up by the expert referees - that is the point of peer review. Subtle errors may slip through initially, but once a published paper has been read by many other experts in the field, any errors will be pointed out by others in their own publications or letters to the editor.

    The marvellous thing about science is that it has self-correcting mechanisms built into the process. Sooner or later, most errors are found out, and any fraud (which is rare) is uncovered.

    Obviously, it is the truly unexpected and new results that tend to get the most attention from other scientists. Many papers publish something that is new but fairly obvious, and those papers may sink more or less without trace. As a general rule, the more citations a paper gets from other scientists, the more likely it is to be free of error - or else it is getting cited a lot because it is full of error and people are pointing out that fact.

    Many physics journals are unlikely to publish a mere proposal for an experiment, whereas the same experiment that has actually been carried out by the author(s) is much more likely to be published. Interesting results are more likely to be published than null results, and that's not always a good thing.

    If you're publishing in an area such as string theory, there simply are no experiments at this point, which is also not necessarily a good thing.
     
  17. cosmictotem Registered Senior Member

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    Btw, I would have to say my idea is purely theoretical much the same as string theory. And this is what I'm talking about: there are no experiments to back up string theory as of yet. Yet it is a widely known theory with everyone is aware of and who developed it. I have a theory that tries to explain the Universe from a different angle, perhaps one that hasn't been thought of before. I don't know if it's correct or better than any other theory out there but if it has merit, I want to get it to the right people.

    I'm thinking the best advice given, since I am not an academic, is submit a sketched out version I have of it to a science journalist or someone else who would know what to do with it, determine if it had merit, expand on it if it did and who would take care to cite me as the impetus of the theory. I certainly don't think I am solely capable of presenting this formally. I'm going to need help.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2012
  18. cosmictotem Registered Senior Member

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    Actually, you've given me an idea. I think I will post my theory on these forums in a few days. I think you guys genuinely love science and would help if you thought something had merit. But the only way to know if my theory has merit is to present it.
     
  19. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

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    That didnt answer what i asked, as I said meta resurch is one thing but if i open the journal of shock and trauma and it states that x treatment is recomended because of y results in trial z those results havent been varified nessarly. Sure someone MIGHT do them down the track and publish in another journal but that origional article that for instance has been submited as evidence that we should change a procidure hasnt been verified? What is to stop the results being fraudulant. Its all very well for a field like astrophysics where the biggest conquense might be that stars arent where they are supposed to be but the health care fields are trying to move more and more to an evidence based aproch and your basically saying that there is no garentiee that the evidence we are relying on is even accurate
     
  20. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Asguard:

    Right. At first publication, usually the only people who have done the study are the people publishing it.

    Nothing. But fraud will often be picked up sooner or later, and fraud will destroy the career of any research scientist. When it comes to medical studies, they are usually done by groups of researchers, all of whom have their names on the paper. So, fraud means that a lot of people are putting their careers on the line.

    The peer review process helps, in that if results are wildly out of kilter with other similar studies then they will raise the eyebrows of the reviewers (and readers of the study if it is published). Remember that science is cumulative. Few results are so groundbreaking that they can't be checked for plausibility against many other existing and independent studies.

    The edges of knowledge, though, are always blurry. What is known and what is conjecture and what are competing theories are fluid at the cutting edge.
     
  21. Saghi Registered Member

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    Wait, I don't know if I can trust you. If the theory is correct you might say it's your theory and take all the credit!
     
  22. ajanta Registered Senior Member

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    Really!
     
  23. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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