Every week science journalists get a bunch of emails from different Respectable Scientific Journals telling us, in advance, what articles those magazines are going to publish. When I started in this play, these tables of contents came by fax; today, in the future, they’re downloadable PDFs. The quo for all this quid is that we agree not to publish anything until a give occasion and day.
It’s called an embargo, and it is in some senses the comedown of a long story–the story of a scientific finding. Sure, correspondents might focus on the eureka moment or the fascinating details of the methods some scientist employed. Massive seriousnes interferometers! Drilling into Earth’s crust! Robot spaceship contemplates a comet! But often, implicit in these kind of floors is a less pulse-pounding headline: Article Published.
That doesn’t mean it’s not news, or not important, or incorrect. No! Fairly the opposite. These are the atoms from which we humen assemble molecules of understanding. A peer-reviewed periodical clause is the path scientists say we found out a circumstance, and perhaps more critically here’s our data and our methods so you can see why we think it’s genuine. “Peer revaluation” means that experts have spoken that clause, commented on it, and given royal assent its publication.
But that said, the rigamarole around scientific publishing–from introduced to a magazine, to having relevant scientists review and approve the study, to publishing on a placed day–is a social construction. This is the plodding, collaborative-but-combative dynamic that turns the labor of science into, well, Science. And Cell, Nature, the New England Journal of Medicine, and thousands of other journals.