Discourse within the Scientific Community

The Socialization Process

The process of socialization into your particular branch of science involves learning the subject matter as well as learning how to think and communicate as a scientist. Rather than waiting to stumble across the patterns of communication and interaction in the community that you want to join, this class encourages you to actively seek out these distinctive patterns, and thus begin to “socialize yourself.”

Research Journals

Represent the main medium through which scientists share their theories and experimental results.

Scientific knowledge is not just constructed in labs or in the field, but in arguments that scientists publish as research reports in scientific journals. Researchers must persuade their peers that they are credible and that they were careful and thoughtful.

It is through these arguments that scientific knowledge advances as theories are presented, challenged, refuted, and refined.

Scientific journals are sponsored by professional associations or institutions, and they vary from one to the next in terms of their audiences and goals.

A scientist decides which journal he/she will submit to before even beginning to write.

In addition to publishing full-length research reports and shorter, preliminary research letters or notes, many journals publish review articles that cover recent research done on a particular topic of interest to readers of the journal.

You need to be aware of the major journals in your research community. These are the journals that you will not only be submitting papers to, but they’re also the ones you’ll be reading to keep up with the latest developments in your field.

Research Conferences

What goes on at research conferences?

  • oral presentations of research
  • poster presentations
  • question and answer sessions
  • feedback
  • networking
  • development of collaborations

Like research journals, conferences vary in size, scope, and audience.

Conferences are another important vehicle for speeding up the exchange of scientific information. Like letters or notes published in journals, conferences allow researchers a chance to give preliminary results of their work.

You should find out about conferences scheduled in your field. You can look on websites of professional associations, on bulletin boards in your department, ask professors or grad students.

Research Proposals

Funding agencies serve in the same gatekeeping role as journal editors and conference organizers. They influence what kind of research is conducted in the first place.

And just as different journals and conferences have specific audiences and focuses, different funding agencies sponsor different types of projects.

Researchers decide on a funding agency before sitting down to write a proposal.

As a new member of your community, you want to find out what the major sources of funding are.