Publishing and patenting

Close-up of HEC1 plan showing clock amplifier and registers.  Image courtesy Ray Bird
Close-up of HEC1 plan showing clock amplifier and registers. Image courtesy Ray Bird

Most scientists working in universities recorded and communicated the results of their research through scholarly papers in peer-reviewed academic journals. These papers could be seen as the main output of their scientific work and emerged from extended analysis of the data and efforts to explain it in a way that would convince others. Once submitted to a journal, papers are subject to ‘peer’ review by others in the field, a process which is intended to ensure the integrity of the research before it is published. Journal editors and peer reviewers play an important role in selecting material for publication and maintaining the boundaries of good and bad science. For those working in private industry or research establishments, and more recently for university scientists as well, patents also assumed an importantrole both in communicating research and securing commercial returns from it. Organisations adopted a range of strategies in relation to patenting their intellectual property. Some opted to patent in order to protect and profit from their ideas while others saw it as a defensive strategy which would strengthen their hand in negotiations with others and secure access to research carried out elsewhere. Despite repeated efforts since World War Two to secure a return to the state from patents generated by government research establishments, few met with success. The liquid crystal displays developed by Cyril Hilsum and his team were one of the exceptions.

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