My ideal experiment to test my hypothesis would involve launching a large apparatus into deep space - and would cost millions of dollars, which I dont have.

Instead, if I develop a software model/simulation to test my hypothesis, is this an acceptable alternative? (in order for my ideas to be published and accepted by the scientific community).

  • 6
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is a question for your scientific community. – Scott Seidman Jan 19 '20 at 17:31
  • "would cost millions of dollars, which I dont have" - Sounds like you need a backer with deep pockets – Valorum Jan 19 '20 at 20:35
  • In general, you can use a numerical model if you can also demonstrate that the model works with something that is testable, and explain why the model should be relevant to the thing in question. But in practice it depends totally on the field you're in and what the norms are. – Flyto Jan 19 '20 at 21:21

This is highly dependent on what field you're in. I'm guessing physics from the question, but even so it depends on your subfield.

Still, as a general matter of scientific methodology: there have been plenty of papers - including many good ones, and many famous ones - that have raised hypotheses and presented models, without also including experiments. This may be because the experiment would be extremely difficult, because the topic itself is inherently theoretical, or simply because the authors are not in an experimental department. There are plenty of journals that specialise in such theoretical results, where such a paper could be submitted.

However, what you almost certainly can't claim is that by running your model you have tested the hypothesis. If your hypothesis is about something that would happen in the real world, then it's not tested until someone has done the experiment to test it. That doesn't mean you can't publish the hypothesis, and use the model to back it up. The model may suggest the hypothesis is true, but by the standards of almost every subdiscipline, it wouldn't count as testing the hypothesis.

(The only exception I can think of is if your hypothesis is about how a particular type of model will behave when simulated, rather than being about the real world per se. In that case it can be reasonable to say you tested the hypothesis by running the simulation. But since your said your hypothesis could in principle be tested experimentally, I assume that's not the case here.)


This is impossible to answer without reading the actual paper, but I will do my best to give you an indication.

If the hypothesis is exciting and the simulation is well-executed and also gives the expected results: probably publishable. Otherwise, probably not.

Given that you need to ask this question here, it looks more like a "no", but don't let me (or any other random person on the internet) stop you: if you think it is publishable you should definitely try it. In the worst case it does not get published and you have learned something.

Also, you should ask this question to your supervisor (if you have one), or try to find someone to work with who has experience publishing papers: support from someone with experience publishing will probably be very helpful (read: necessary) to get your paper into a journal or conference.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.