I don’t know Katie Everson, but she put this out on Facebook recently and it’s great.
I’m a bit of a fanboy of academics and researchers, so I’ve read a few scientific papers of this type. They mostly go kind of like this:
- Hi, this is who I am and here are my co-authors.
- Here is the thing we were investigating.
- Here’s the idea we were trying out to see if it’s true or not.
- Here’s a little backstory on what everyone else has published that’s similar to that idea. Here’s how our idea is a little different.
- Here’s the experiment we did. You can follow these instructions and do it too.
- If the idea is correct, we should see Result A, with X% confidence.
- If the idea isn’t quite correct, we should see Result B, with Y% confidence.
- Here are the results we got, in enough detail that if you do the experiment yourself you can compare results.
- Therefore, we think it’s [fill in percent] likely that [fill in findings here] is true. Or [percent] likely that our idea was barking up the wrong tree, but at least now we all know that. Or, dammit, here’s an assumption we relied upon that might be wrong so now we need to backtrack.
- Based on all that, it would be really useful if someone were to study [fill in related ideas].
And then the journal is implicitly saying “We can’t swear that this is true, but we ran it past three or four big nerds and they failed to poke any major holes in the idea or the conclusions so this is probably useful information.”