El bienestar en la cultura
Una mirada desde lo empírico y la episteme
Una mirada desde lo empírico y la episteme

Building the scientific consensus

Tiempo de lectura: 14 minutos

Preliminary reading

We recommend that you read the publication: “Postdoctoral research on bibliotherapy and the meaning of life”, which is available in the following versions:

When a scientist wonders about a topic, the first thing he will do is look for the answer in specialized books. The researcher knows that these books are of a special kind, that is, they belong to an exclusive category of rigorous knowledge and therefore they can be found in the more specialized section of that knowledge. 

This will allow that person to collect the available information and find out the state of the art, where it is, the study area that this scientist is investigating. A few specific books correspond to a very specific question where to find the answer. It is even very likely that there is not a single answer but several.

Suppose the scientist will find that the answer is divided by two different schools of thought, each with their own particular points of view, defended in favor of their own idea or hypothesis with arguments and philosophical positions sufficiently firm in its foundations. Let’s say it’s about vision A and vision B.

According to his opinion, the scientist decides that the theory corresponding to A’s vision has some methodological advantages, which allow him to design an experiment with greater ease and control of results compared to theory B. So, he proceed to conduct experimental research, consult other books, let’s say maybe regarding how to make independent variables and code them for statistical publishing or also, find out what dose is adequate to supply a small laboratory mouse with a certain drug.

All the bibliographic consultations allow him to design an experiment and obtain rigorous results that can be published and added to specialized sources of science, which will be available to other future researchers, with new concerns.

According to the previous example, the A theory of this specialized knowledge will have a new contribution, one more data which comes to be represented by the investigative task of the scientist who carried out these tests. As more researchers provide evidence and data regarding theory A, then theory A will build a greater scientific consensus.This is very common in the field of science.  For example, in the seventeenth century there were two explanations about the essence of light.

Based on these two theories, different experiments have been carried out, to defend one of them.  The phenomenon behaves according to three clear characteristics: rectilinear propagation, reflection, and refraction. The interesting thing about this example is that even observing the same phenomenon it is possible to understand it in both ways without missing the reason for it.

In the field of social sciences, to complement this understanding of the immense ocean of knowledge of human history where we seek information, we turned to Joe Black, a fictional character who tells us:

Something unthinkable, a notion, that emerged from the social sciences would end up contributing knowledge to the physical sciences, and in this specific case to the problem of light behavior: the presence of the observer modifies the object of study observed.  Quantum physics was born as a new synthesis and answer to the problem. That is to say, by means of the postulate IV that affirms that when a measurement of the position of a light particle is carried out, its wave function collapses, which allows to locate it in the coordinates of time and space.

«It is the Concept of quantum mechanics according to which there are no fundamental differences between particles and waves: particles can behave like waves and vice versa».

Stephen Hawking

Quantum physics and all other sciences are currently in the task of building a greater scientific consensus of their theories from new contributions that are made by the most qualified specialists. It is this field of scientific knowledge with whose activity that allows human beings to dominate nature, and in general terms to live their existence as well as possible. To continue with the example, thanks to these contributions regarding the nature of light, there are lasers , remote communications over the internet, magnetic resonances, among others.

The rigorous knowledge of a subject is built through a scientific consensus that is based on the production and experience of new knowledge, that are generated by the investigations of the specialists of that subject. Then the field of science requires us to be specialized and constantly updated regarding our area of ​​interest,  to be able to provide a technical service in order to contribute to the culture in which we are immersed.

Delimit the topic

Many times a precise question is enough to go correctly to define the topic.

 For example, what were the causes of the dissolution of the Tawantin suyu (in Quechua: Inca Empire)? Then, another more precise question may arise such as What was the role of discontented ethnic groups in the overthrow and conquest of Spanish soldiers over Tawantin suyu?  And even more, how specifically did the Chachapoyas tribes support the Spanish colonialists?

There were numerous ethnic groups represented by the Incas throughout their domain. This gives rise to an infinity of specific topics that can contribute an anthropological and transdisciplinary investigation in this regard. This example illustrates the power of systematized questions and the vastness of the unknown.

El Dr. Antonio Román en el Museo del Santuario de Pachacamac. Distrito de Lurín, de la provincia de Lima, en el Perú

In other cases it is possible to find a dilemma in the reference bibliography explicitly, and against which, the social scientist develop an investigation to contribute elements in one direction or another.  In Latin American social and political history this type of discussion is frequent. For example: Subcomandante Marcos: guerrilla fighter of the 19th century or the 21st century?

The fighter Virgin of Guadalupe, an icon of the rise of the guerrilla, where religious,political, historical and cultural elements are combined.

The specialists

For the task of a social scientist, who seeks to build consensus, it is necessary to appeal to the most rigorous sources of systematic knowledge, which are the ones that satisfy certain publication prerequisites.  The requirements of a scientific publication guarantee the seriousness of the research and its academic validity.

The specialists are the representatives of a limited knowledge, who have built a scientific consensus based on their research. These investigations serve as references in the search for information. The task of every specialist is very useful for social research based on new contributions with new tests.

There are specialists in various study subjects. For example, Archaeoastronomy is a branch of knowledge that tries to understand how ancient civilizations understood astronomy. Montero Garcia, David Wood, and Galindo Trejo are specialists in this area, and have made a scientific publication regarding the Chichén Itzá Castle, in which they believe   that exits a religious symbolism in the Mayan worldview.

El Dr. Antonio Román en el templo de Kukulkán, es un edificio prehispánico ubicado en la península de Yucatán, en el actual estado del mismo nombre. México

In 1988 Unesco declared the Mayan city of Chichén Itzá as a World Heritage Site. This is also the product of a very complex consensus in which a committee is convened where there are representatives from all continents.

They are social scientists from 21 countries selected from a rotating base of more than 163 countries. They meet in a city (always different every 4 years) for 10 days and submit reports to make the corresponding publications.

Review studies

Review studies in social sciences are similar in this regard, they try to be able to gather the main ideas and theories of the specialists of a social study area or of several, with the purpose of building scientific consensus. They facilitate the decision-making task of certain technical psychosocial intervention procedures. The model is taken from the medical sciences.

Regarding the review studies, Ferreyra writes: “Among others, you have indicated a surgical intervention to a patient with three-vessel disease, you had to decide whether an 82-year-old patient with a heart attack of less than 70 min duration must be fibrinolyzed or transferred for primary angioplasty, and in consultations external decided to anticoagulate a patient with atrial fibrillation.

Although you are reasonably convinced that your decisions were based on the best available evidence, doubt assails you Has a study been published that questions my decisions? Can different studies on the same intervention differ in the results? The truth is that in the last months you have not had much time to read. You realize that to clear your doubts you quickly need a concise, up-to-date and rigorous synthesis of the best available evidence in the decisions you had to make. In other words, you need a systematic review. «

Systematic reviews guarantee decision-making more firmly and therefore the quality and specificity of the topic are very important.

If the topic is not well defined in a review study, you may not be able to provide the basis for making an intervention decision adequately. So delimiting the topic well, becomes an essential task.

A wise tip is to research a topic about which you already have sufficient knowledge.  it is useful for those starting in the postdoctoral work of the review study to start with what is known. It may be helpful for you to choose aspects of your doctoral thesis work that, due to their specificity, serve as a trigger element. 

The indicated procedure for those who do not have a topic yet, would be to re-read their thesis work, considering those contents that could be chosen for a more focused study. But the important thing is that these concepts may already be identified as belonging to a particular line of thought, a school or a theory.

For example, if I research depression, perhaps the term is too long and cannot be identified with any school of thought. But if I investigate noogenic neurosis, I am aligning myself with the Viennese school of psychotherapy called logotherapy.

So, I will be able to adjust my gaze to find texts where precisely that concept is the key to articulate my review work. When we are familiar with the concepts we only have to look for the key words.
This makes the summaries easier to read. Because we speak in the same language with those authors. Originality must also be found in the specificity of the subject we intend to develop.

This enables us to build consensus with a sufficient number of thinkers, that like us, they are working on the same topic.

Therefore it is important to comply with the 3 requirements or the 3 C.

The topic election

When comparing the results of the material gathered according to the correctly defined topic, a synthesis work is obtained capable of being available to science.

When doctoral thesis work is used as a source of inspiration in choosing the topic, it should be done following the advice of Balza Laya.

Balza Laya in : Thinking about postdoctoral research from a complex perspective, says:

«A researcher, in any field of knowledge, but especially in the Social Sciences, and at the postdoctoral level, must be a permanent interrogator, a thinker of reality with heuristic potential and creativity to move through five major portals of the human questioning in search of the truth. Such portals are: reading to approach the thematic axes of knowledge, creative imagination, curiosity, criticism and freedom of thought». (pág.12).

Faced with the diversity of paradigms and points of view, the social scientist must personalize his field of knowledge in such a way that he can assume it transdisciplinary, but strengthening a social theory above others, by gathering the corresponding evidence, aligned with a certain scientific consensus.

The transdisciplinary in the field of culture requires an extensive cultural baggage to be able to trace routes full of originality and new perspectives. Contributing to the construction of a theoretical framework by convening different disciplines is not an easy task. Let’s imagine that a scientist has an interest in the social, political and religious life of the pre-Columbian peoples.

A very specific contribution could have to do with an anthropological study of barter in the pre-Hispanic civilizations of Mexico from the study of Diego Rivera’s paintings.

hoosing the correct topic is associated with familiarity of the concepts, and the adequacy of the search will depend on the domain of the researcher regarding the key terms.

For example, looking for the placebo effect implies finding a consensus that is too broad to support a correct delimitation, which is beyond the limits of a scientific review. On the other hand, using the concept of the nocebo effect by voodoo magic, the investigator creates greater precision, and makes it easier to gather a very limited group of investigations that have developed precisely that line.

The objective of Dr Román’s postdoctoral work was to carry out a rigorous meta-analytical study regarding the psychosocial effects of Bibliotherapy in vulnerable communities, in order to determine with more precision and efficiency the most competent models to use, to extrapolate the results obtained in his research, to psychosocial and community emergency settings.

With this example,his purpose is also evidenced, that of demonstrating the importance of the use of bibliotherapy in vulnerable communities, this is a clear and concrete example of adequate originality and delimitation.

On the other hand, the most specific work, and most original publication, facilitates disclosure in terms of participation in conferences and exhibitions. Which enables and accelerates the role of post-doctor attached to the investigative task

Mercosur Congress in the province of Misiones: VI Meeting of libraries and librarians. Conference on «Resignification of the Meaning of Life through reading in the context of confinement. Bibliotherapy as a therapeutic resource of logotherapy»

Thanks to the principle of scarcity, a researcher who works with a defined topic is more valued. When few people know a lot about a topic, finding them  among other researchers around the world is the simplest.

The Dead Sea Manuscripts (or Dead Sea Scrolls or Nag Hammadi manuscripts) constitutes the greatest discovery of ancient texts from the Contemporary Age.
They were written in Coptic. Finding at least ten Coptic researchers in the world it could be a dream. It is an extreme example that illustrates the importance of specificity. Once a group of scientists take a position on a topic, cross-citations most often occur. And this  facilitates the possibility of expanding the production of knowledge. It also promotes the creation of networks between experts from the same line of research, and helps to enrich the exchange. In the case of the Coptic, a small contribution can make a big difference.

This promotes the authority that the aspiring postdoctor is building in the subject he is developing

We can affirm that the postdoctor’s task is not only to carry out a review study, but also must be integrated into the scientific community and this is not achieved only with a job, but with concrete relationships

In this sense, the issue to be delimited is very important, transcends political and national limits,   allows new perspectives  within scientific parameters, mainly through discussion. There is a large bibliography regarding the “discussion” section of review studies. Since it is a key element of scientific production, its correct elaboration is not a minor issue.

Schmalbalch and Alzate write some essential elements of any discussion:

  • An interpretation of the results found in the study: The meaning of this subsection is to be able to transmit the practical, or theoretical, value that the interpretation must have.
  • A deep reflection of the implication of these results: This section shows how attractive it is to be able to issue a specific suggestion based on the entire study carried out with the analysis of the results.

It is really very important not to hide any kind of pertinent information, because the purpose of the review studies is associated with applicability criteria in diverse and often very delicate subjects.

The social scientist must adhere to being clear in the transmission of his conclusions, preparing a document that summarizes the evidence that supports his work, also transmitting the agreement or not with previous publications.

Román expresses it this way in his postdoctoral work:

«All the studies reviewed in this work provide evidence about the efficacy of Bibliotherapy as a therapeutic resource to find the meaning of life in vulnerable communities.»

Dr. Antonio Martín Román

In this example we can also clearly identify the key concepts, and the proposed theoretical  framework.


It has been exposed how to build consensus in the academic community from the choice and delimitation of the topic of an area of knowledge. In this way a properly social role is paired with the investigative task. This new role aims to create new social ties and contact networks with other experts in order to continue contributing to the community in general through the scientific exercise in particular.

From the bibliographic consultation begins an adventure that is going to be traveled assimilating knowledge, the experience of many social scientists belonging to a paradigm. 

It is an exploration adventure in a well defined area to produce a contribution with the Prism Method methodology. 

In this way the scientific consensus is built and the publications enter the most rigorous and academic databases, where new researchers will be especially valued by other adventurous scientists. 

Finally, with this, it is possible to give way to the progress of the world of culture in which we are immersed.

“We are like a small child entering a huge library full of books in different languages. The child knows that someone has written those books. He does not know how. Does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child vaguely suspects the existence of a sorting of the books but does not know wich it is ”

Albert Einstein


There is an automatic rule APA generator:

For any questions, it is simply possible to write in the specialized search engine of that website.

To assemble the tables it is recommended to use the predesigned tables suggested by the study house to which the social scientist belongs. It is very common for institutions to provide such tools.

I recommend that the team made up of the social researcher and their teacher evaluators have the same operating system on their computers.  Sometimes without an operating system compatibility, documents can be altered.

In any case, it is always justified to ask for help in making tables  that require a certain level of elaboration.

Many times this help can be assisted by highly qualified personnel of the institution and in other cases, a trained professional can solve it without major inconveniences or offer the corresponding help.

The choice of language brings some complexities of its own, such as differences in the nomenclature of key concepts. For example, within psychology, Ego is a concept with a different meaning in Spanish compared to English.

One last suggestion for every postdoctoral candidate is to remember to live in a balanced way and to progress systematically without neglecting to enjoy the daily pleasures of existence.


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How to cite this article

Román, A. (2020). Building the scientific consensus [Día Mes, Año de la consulta on line] https://antonioroman.info/building-the-scientific-consensus