How do/did scientists, especially theoretical physicists, publish papers whenever they wanted to?

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is theoretical research different from regular research? like are they not required to get an institution (a uni or a research center) to back them?

i’ve also read similar things about papers in the field of math and i think chemistry too about historical figures publishing while working unrelated jobs

In: Physics

7 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

just because its theoretical does not mean it isnt based in science or testable hypothesis and other known/accepted theories/formulas/facts…..

yes a theoretic physasisst will likely work at a university lab; or a big multinational corporation or government agency. they will need to make proposials as to what they are researching, what they hope to find, and what outcomes they expect as well as what that might mean practically

Anonymous 0 Comments

Most journals will accept good papers from any author, that’s a principle of academic openness. That said, it’s a lot easier to get something published if the journal’s editor recognizes your academic institution and can call up some friend that knows your work to vouch for you.

In actuality, the past was not as good as the present, and for example it was much, much more difficult for a woman to get a paper published than a man. Conceptual openness still is implemented with unreliable and biased humans.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Most reputable journals will accept submissions from just about anyone, although they’ll get binned quickly if they don’t appear to be solid science (or math) on an initial thumb-through. Helps if the author has an established academic or scientific pedigree, but it’s not necessary. As a practical matter, the intake editor may not give much attention to papers submitted by true unknowns, but technically, they are supposed ti be given due consideration.

Anonymous 0 Comments

>is theoretical research different from regular research? like are they not required to get an institution (a uni or a research center) to back them?

Typically, people need money. As such, theoretical scientists will typically work for an institute that will pay them. This means they can focus on their research. Someone with the right background could choose to do science in their spare time if they wished, but doing it in your spare time is a lot harder.

Working for an institute and being funded by a research body also means that a professor could potentially take on PhD students and/or postdocs to help them research certain topics, more easily gain access to collaboration with peers, be provided with necessary software and computer hardware, potentially pay an open-access publishing fee, etc.

While the vast majority of journals do not require you to have an affiliation to get published, some are “single blind” review, meaning that the peers reviewing your paper see your details and may potentially be biased. This is not the case for all though, and even for the ones where it is the research should speak for itself if good enough.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s not that they could publish “whenever they wanted to” – peer review and institutional backing have always mattered, to some degree. The thing with theoretical work, especially back in the day, is that it often required less funding (no labs or expensive equipment), so people could work on it in their spare time. Think of it as the scientific version of indie game development today.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The key here is peer review. There experts in your field have to give it a thumbs up to get published.

There has been an influx with the internet of self-publishing papers without peer review. I’m not going to use pejoratives like “junk science” — but without quality control, you get a wide variety of quality. You can’t be a professional scientist and use these publishers, because it hurts your reputation.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Neither theoretical nor experimental research inherently requires an institution to “legitimize” research for publication; good research well presented can stand on its own.

However, there are two major reasons why most research gets done at institutions rather than getting done by folks working unrelated jobs.

**TIME** – A person working full-time at an institution as a professional-researcher has the privilege of being able to devote their working-hours toward research. Sure, a big chunk of their workday may be required to handle various other duties too (like teaching a course, etc.) but they’re still better off (in terms of numbers of hours they’re able to devote to research) than a person working an unrelated full-time who can only work on their research in their personal time.

**MONEY** – Institutions are very useful for sharing resources. Libraries, academic journal subscriptions, particle accelerators, etc. are all things that would be extremely expensive for one person to self-fund, but split the costs over tens or hundreds of institution members who intend to use it and the per-capita price tag becomes much less prohibitive.

So, in general that means that institution-based professional-researchers will have a strong edge over hobby-researchers doing work on their own time and their own dime. That being said, “theoretical” research typically requires less infrastructure than cutting edge “experimental” research – so a theoretical hobby-researcher has a much better chance of doing new and interesting work at their home desk compared to an experimental hobby-researcher trying to do high-tech stuff in their garage; they’re both at a time disadvantage compared to the professional-researchers… but the theorist only needs a library (or a virtually pirated one) whereas an experimentalist will have a much more difficult task of trying to do cutting-edge stuff without cutting-edge equipment (kind impossible to just pirate a Large Hadron Collider or something even if you had a 3D printer).