Megan at Teen Ink magazine is teaching teenagers how to research real science before writing science fiction stories. I wonder how many real science fiction authors actually follow her methods?
In response to a reader question about how to research science fiction stories, Megan writes:
I follow pretty much the same procedure as I would if I were preparing to write a paper: find reputable sources (websites or books), try to make sure that I understand the basics of the topic, and use that knowledge to explore the potential consequences of evolving technology. Most of my science fiction stories focus on biological and medical sciences, where scientific journals like Nature (accessible online at nature.com) and topic-specific non-profit organizations (such as the Society for Neuroscience) can provide a wealth of information. I imagine that similar resources exist for other topics, like robotics. If you are really serious about the technological details of a story, many professors at major universities have websites with e-mail addresses that you can use to ask them questions. I have never done this myself, but if you are courteous and express an interest in their field, most scientists would probably be eager to help.
She adds that not every science fiction story requires that level of research — if you're just writing a story about a boy and his space duck, all you really need to do is make sure the space duck comes from a planet capable of supporting life. [Teen Ink]