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I’ve been working on a research project, and we have some findings that we are now writing a paper. However, I am unsure about one section of the paper.

We have done some experiments (related to images and videos), and after quite a lot of reverse engineering, we discovered something related to how cameras take pictures and videos. Later, we read a lot about camera internals and found out our finding is already there. So, there is nothing novel about it.

However, previous research/other researchers in my field don’t know it and due to that the performances of similar experiments were around 70–80 % whereas ours is 96–97 %. I wonder if our discovery is a valid to include to a paper. Or what is a good way to add it to the paper and make it look fancier than it is?

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    If someone can publish the "discovery" of integration in a biology journal (and make ti become one of the most-cited paper in their field), anything is possible...
    – user9646
    Jan 25 '18 at 10:48
  • The comment below the paper is: The authors have simply (re)invented integration, a mathematical procedure taught to most high school students. So, you suggest I should go for it!
    – smttsp
    Jan 25 '18 at 10:56
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    @NajibIdrissi Given the notoriety of that paper is at this point primarily as a cautionary tale, I'd suggest not going down that path.
    – Fomite
    Jan 25 '18 at 18:24
  • In a similar direction as an example, some previously computationally-intensive statistical techniques are spreading into a lot of fields that once had no idea how to use them. There are many papers out now that are effectively "Hey people in field X, we are in field X, too, and are using a technique that is used by people all over other fields, maybe you should too..." I don't see anything wrong with these contributions - they make full reference to the existing work on the topic.
    – Bryan Krause
    Jan 25 '18 at 22:32
  • @Fomite My comment was a joke.
    – user9646
    Jan 26 '18 at 8:35
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You've advanced the state of the art (from 70-80% to 96-97%), so your result seems publishable in that field. Moreover, you could publish a review of that field in your own field, by explaining how it is relevant.

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  • Makes sense, I am just not sure whether my peers in the field will be convinced by the paper. I think the accept/reject decision will be related to how I polish the paper.
    – smttsp
    Jan 25 '18 at 11:09
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    @smttsp you of course do need to be clear that you discovered the finding is not original, and add references where appropriate.
    – user25112
    Jan 25 '18 at 16:36
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Taking an approach to one problem and translating it to another problem is a valid scientific contribution and can be a considerable creative achievement. I know a handful of important papers that essentially do this. If you actually achieved an improvement and it was a very obvious thing to do, why didn’t people do it before?

As you have already noted, the crucial point is how you sell your insight. The first step is to identify the level on which you actually solved an unsolved problem (in a broad sense that captures performance boosts). For example, you may not have developed a new method to track the movement of fast-moving objects, but you have found a new approach to study the movement of arrows by translating established techniques for studying the movement of sparrows. This should be the leitmotif of your paper (or the respective part thereof). Also, do not forget to cite previous studies which could have been improved by your insight.

The only thing that probably nobody cares about is your reverse engineering (unless you developed some new reverse-engineering methodologies or similar). But as a scientist you are in company when spending a considerable amount of time on something that you could have achieved easier. Science always looks simpler when it’s finished and nicely wrapped.

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  • Did you mean to say "movement of arrows" or "movement of sparrows"?
    – henning
    Jan 25 '18 at 12:35
  • @henning: Arrows. Sparrows wouldn’t make sense as they are already covered by birds.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jan 25 '18 at 12:50
  • @henning: I could replace birds with sparrows though …
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jan 25 '18 at 16:19
  • I agree , is matter of cutting the paper the right way.
    – Alchimista
    Jan 26 '18 at 11:08

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