In scientific research, you do the research, then you publish the research. It is published in what are called peer-reviewed journals. These are journals where when an article is submitted, it is sent out to one or two other scientists to review it. These reviewers are usually anonymous, i.e., you don’t know their names. If they like it, the article is published, if they don’t, it isn’t.
I have published lots of papers, and they have all gone through this process. But not all scientific journals are like this. I submitted a paper to the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, which is different. It is the first time I have submitted a paper to this journal. There an editor takes a quick look and if it looks OK, then it is sent out to two reviewers to ask their opinion. But it also goes straight on the web as a discussion paper. Mine is here.
Then anyone can comment on it on the web, good and bad. It is open season, for polite scientific discourse. The paper only went up today so there are no comments yet. I am a bit nervous, but I hope it will be fun, discussion can be a very good way of learning. I’ll let you know how it goes.
The journal is also what is called Open Access. This means that you pay to publish in it – it cost about £400, which came from a, taxpayer funded, grant. So the taxpayer pays the costs of publishing directly, but then they, and everyone else, can read it. Anyone can download the paper and read it, you don’t have to subscribe at all. I think this is the future. Most research of this sort is taxpayer funded. It is simple for them to directly the cost of publishing, and then it is free for everyone, not hidden in a journal that could cost anything up to £10,000/year plus to subscribe to.