What is the mission of publishing a scientific article? Why are we doing this?


Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 9 August 2011


Cervai, S. and Kekale, T. (2011), "What is the mission of publishing a scientific article? Why are we doing this?", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 23 No. 6. https://doi.org/10.1108/jwl.2011.08623faa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

What is the mission of publishing a scientific article? Why are we doing this?

Article Type: Editorial From: Journal of Workplace Learning, Volume 23, Issue 6

Any real academic journal exists to put forward research findings that the author claims is new knowledge on the way the world works. By reading the articles and trying to spot any problems, the reviewers and editors of the journal attempt to guarantee that at least basic levels of robustness and logic have been taken into account in the research design, method, validity, reliability and the thinking behind the conclusions. The emphasis must be on the word “attempt”; only the mathematic science is absolute, and even that only within its own system. Any study on a system that includes human beings only produces approximations of the results, something that with a certain probability was close to the “reality” at that time in that place within that sample of persons.

No matter what some philosophers of science say, do not believe any bigger promises in articles you read. The authors will state that their findings may be expandable to a similar group of people in another time and place. They might be but, then again, they might not. Maybe they were at the time of the research, or maybe the authors are assuming that they are expandable without having the knowledge that you, the reader, may have.

This brings us to the point. Science is actually made by you, the readers. Reading scientific papers should be done in the same way as the reviewers are doing it – recognizing the sense and validity of the approach, the purpose, the correct use of the correctly selected method, the soundness of the evidence on which the author states his/her conclusions. And any reader should compare the article with everything else he/she knows on the topic: other articles, his/her own evidence, even the simplest logic. (A very typical failure of scientific evidence in articles that include cause/effect models is to state that the effects reported, e.g. company profit increase, took place before the actual reason, e.g. the management action.)

Thus, we hope that you read our material with this kind of critical eye. Science should be self-correcting: this means that readers of scientific reports find and correct the failures in evidence and conclusions in their own research. Please feel free to write articles that follow up on the findings in our selection of papers. The reviewers and editors will try their best to spot any problems in the findings – but we cannot find them all. This is why the journal needs to keep publishing more volumes.

This thought was sparked by the first article in this issue, “Learning from the failures of others: the effects of post-exit knowledge spillovers on recipient firms” by Joseph Amankwah-Amoah. The idea of the article, while discussing organizational learning, also compresses the scientific evolution very nicely.

The issue continues with a couple of social-learning articles: “Organizational commitment through organizational socialization tactics”, by Cathrine Filstad, and “Individual learning and group performance: the role of collective efficacy”, by Marie-Hélène Budworth. The final article in this issue is a joint effort by Jos Sanders, Shirley Oomens, Roland W.B. Blonk, and Astrid Hazelzet, explaining lower educated workers’ training intentions. After the thoughts described above, it should come as no surprise that we hope that you read these papers with critical afterthought. We hope you find some limitations in them and report these in order to bring science forward. We welcome your comments.


Sara Cervai, Tauno Kekäle