I noticed that scientists are one of the most hermetic societies around. Does anybody know how can some "nobody" safely publish an interesting idea, at least, interesting for that someone?

I think that there are plenty of people that have regular jobs and didn't make it through to the scientist/researcher career to be able to present a paper or the like.

Edit: Your question has been identified as a possible duplicate of another question. I think it differs in that I'm not asking how to make a paper and what kind of ideas are suitable. I'm asking how to publish it after I wrote it hopefully accomplishing a paper's requirements.

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    Check out this academia.stackexchange.com/questions/48585/….
    – Alexandros
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 13:54
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    Also this: How to write a white paper for a non-academic?
    – yo'
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 13:56
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    The society is hermetic (I don't agree with that, but let's run with it for the moment) not because of the people involved, but because an article has very specific formats and requirements (as explained in the two links previously commented). Exaggerating a bit, it is like surgery, you have to know what you are doing if you want it to be successful. Even then, it is common to have papers rejected. An article is way more than idea in the head and pen and paper in your hands... Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 14:06
  • Thanks Fábio, I'll try to circumvent those limitations. Still, for the sake of argue, my brother in law is a professional researcher and even him is still waiting to receive paper on the subject I want to write, that only researchers can ask for... from a journal magazine site.
    – juanmf
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 14:11
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    Why do you say "safely"? What danger are you worried about? Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 16:17

2 Answers 2


It seems to me that you have a common misconception about the nature of scientific publications. You talk about somebody wanting to "present a paper" and "an interesting idea," but you do not mention what this is intended to accomplish. This sounds to me like you're thinking about the publication as an end in and of itself, or as a way of making scientists listen to your ideas. Neither of these is the case.

Scientific publications are, ultimately, about communication. They are part of a long, slow dialogue within a community, and peer-review is a filtering process by which a sub-community attempts to determine "Is this piece of work substantial enough to consider taking seriously?"

If you just want to get your ideas out there, you don't need peer reviewed publication. You can disseminate ideas through many different types of media, and if your writing is well-presented and interesting enough to others, you can draw attention and affect the scientific world without any need for peer review or even credibility (more's the pity).

If, on the other hand, you want to make scientists listen to your ideas, peer reviewed publication won't do that either. Most scientific publications are barely read and never cited. To have an impact on scientists, you need to figure out how to speak their language and how to participate in the community and its conversation in a way that relates to what other scientists are thinking about.

Honestly, this is really hard. It's not because science is closed and wants to keep outsiders away: some sub-communities certainly hold such attitudes, but usually there are other related communities that are quite open and welcoming of newcomers. Mostly, though, it's hard because you have to prove that, out of all the vast number of ideas floating by every day, your ideas are the ones that are worth the time and energy to consider carefully. Doing that requires gathering strong and objective evidence, presenting that evidence in a clear and compelling manner, and placing it in the context of the larger dialogue in the community with which are you attempting to communicate. All of those are difficult, and if a paper fails on any of them, it is likely to be rejected and/or ignored, because the people reading it won't understand why it's worth paying attention to.

Now, what does exacerbate the difficulty of getting involved in science is the difficulty of getting at some sections of the literature. High-cost subscription-only journals can make it impossible for outsiders to access key parts of the ongoing conversation, thus making it much more difficult for them to participate. Some parts of the scientific community have taken good steps towards addressing that (e.g., physics and math), while others are generally quite terrible. If you're dealing with one of the latter, then many scientists will still gladly share pre-print copies of their articles, but it does make things much harder.

  • Thanks a lot @jakebeal ! My intention is to elaborate on a mathematical concept and publish it, because I feel compelled to share. I can't predict or create expectations on the impact. And I know almost nothing on the subject of publishing. To be peer reviewed would be nice. The hard part is to be sure that it's novel. As you said, state of the art requires invitation or expensive-Subscriptions. I'm still waiting to receive a related pre-print paper. It's con Math, I want to write about prime numbers, but don't know where to, and even if its novel.
    – juanmf
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 16:48
  • I suggest using Google Scholar to search for prior work on prime numbers, of which there is a vast amount. Also, if you want to claim they have a predictable sequence, you're going to need to provide pretty strong evidence, since a lot of prior work has been done on their predictability.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 17:29
  • And supose I end up writing it. Where and how do I post it?
    – juanmf
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 18:07
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    Unfortunately, even scientists can fall prey to the "publication as an end in and of itself" idea.
    – JAB
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 19:58
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    @juanmf You can send it to a journal for peer review. You might also post it to arXiv and circulate it amongst others working in the field. In order to not be written off as a crank, however, you'll need to be familiar with the work of those others and able to cogently explain how yours relates.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 22:15

As my old and wise supervisor used to say: "You don't know unless you try it".

So, go ahead, find a conference that is related to your idea, and then submit a paper. If the idea is worthy they will publish it. Every conference committee will be happy to see new ideas and contributions in their field.

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    Note that the majority of fields does not use conferences as publication venue.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 18:57

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