6
$\begingroup$

I am not sure if this exactly fits into the intended scope of the meta but I will try it out. This is clearly an explicitly subjective question with no universally correct answer, but I suspect that the rules on the meta are fairly less stringent than on the main to possibly accommodate this kind of a post. If not, I will be happy to delete it.


I was wondering if there is a type or category of questions that one uses PSE for if one is in academia (in physics) and has plenty of opportunities to discuss one's questions with fellow students and/or colleagues. It is relatively clear that one being in academia might not have any relevance to what one wants to ask on PSE if what they are asking about pertains to a field that is different from their own field. However, in cases where one asks something that is close enough to their own field so that they can discuss the same with their colleagues, what are the main motivations (or, are there?) for asking it on PSE?

  • Is it to get a broader perspective from a wider community?

    • For example, if there is disagreement among the people you discuss something with or if you just want to be sure that all of you are not making the same mistake, etc.
  • Is it to ask questions that are peculiar/idiosyncratic enough to your specific intersection of interests that your colleagues might not be interested in them?

  • Is it the case that you don't see PSE as a second step after having discussed something with your colleagues and rather, you just ask a question here if it arises in your mind when you are not in the presence of your colleagues?

Framed as a close corollary, does there exist a type or category of questions for which PSE has been useful to you even if you are in an academic setting where you could have or might actually have discussed the same questions with your friends and/or colleagues?

$\endgroup$
1
5
$\begingroup$

For interdisciplinary researchers like me, PSE, MSE and MO are a very valuable resource of information and for problem solving. If you are working on fields bordering on your own, you often do not know at all if questions/problems that are arising to you might be common knowledge to an advanced learner of another field. Usually you know enough to be able to say if it is or could be undergraduate knowledge, then you usually can advance on your own. But is often especially useful to "live" communicate with people rather then doing literature research since one often uses a different "language" which will hamper automated queries and the like. In general active researchers do not have too many possibilities to communicate outside their focus. The further you get away from your say "main" focus the more difficult it becomes to find people who might help you with your questions. Maybe some cube distance law ...

$\endgroup$
5
$\begingroup$

Usually when I don't understand something that I've read in a paper or figuring out where a result/derivation comes from. So they are specific questions about very specific items and they are usually associated with stuff that I am teaching, rather than research.

I often discuss these with colleagues, but would do that in parallel.

Examples

How is the phase gain of a Fabry-Perot resonator for gravitational wave detection derived?

Do induced currents in a conductive surface result in significant electromagnetic fields outside the surface?

$\endgroup$
1
0
$\begingroup$

Asking the right questions
The hard part in research is often a) posing the correct question, and then b) finding an appropriate method for dealing with it. Once the question is posed and a solution method is chosen, the rest is rather technical, i.e., not really "science"... although this is what scientists do most of their time, and it certainly requires high qualifications. (One may call this high-level engineering).

On the other hand, the PSE is intended for getting precise answers to precise questions - any broader questions with possible scientific merit are quickly closed as requiring more clarity or opinion-based. Thus, PSE might be helpful in terms of dealing with technicalities - helping to find quicker answers to the questions that would otherwise require seriously studying a new subject or performing extensive literature search.

The Audience
In more practical terms, it is worth noting that the ranking does contain some known names, and there are some more hiding behind nicknames and/or relatively low scores. However, these are a small sample of the actual scientific community, especially, if we limit ourselves to those who are active in the community. I would be surprized, if there are any Nobel quality people... although everything is possible.

$\endgroup$
-4
$\begingroup$

I believe StackExchange in general is currently one of the best public open forums for scholars on established science and latest respected research. The information shared is at the highest level of academic standards and that is what distinguishes SE from other similar forums. Sometimes it also serves as a peer-review of latest serious research developments and a discussion of their implications. Specially PSE in particular excels on all the above points. If you are doing interdisciplinary physics research (which is today the norm in one extend or the other) PSE in my opinion is the best internet forum for testing, clarifying and verifying your knowledge and if you want serious answers and analysis to your questions it seems that you cannot find any references in the literature.

$\endgroup$
3
  • $\begingroup$ For clarity, is this answer coming from your personal experience (that is: is academic research in physics as your main professional activity), or just as a general impression? If the former, what do you actually use it for? $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Apr 24 at 13:32
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ If nothing else, your impression that PSE can be used as a substitute for peer review is rather far from the mark. See Is Physics SE an appropriate location for peer review? for the details on the (negative) answer. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Apr 24 at 13:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Emilio Pisanty Hi, The best use for me of PSE is for clarifying established knowledge found in the literature. Sometimes hearing from different people about the same concept from different angles and perspectives helps to gain a deeper and all around understanding of a concept or phenomena. What is your use of PSE? $\endgroup$ – Markoul11 Apr 24 at 17:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .