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How to write a mathematical research paper - July 7, 2011
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Spiked Math Comic - How to write a mathematical research paper



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24 Comments

The tough ones are (1) and (2): finding a research problem that you can work with is key. Anyone have any help actually doing it?

I browse journals in my field. First look for titles that I some idea about, read the abstract to see if that is interesting to me. Then flip to the end to see if there are open problems mentioned. If I have slight ideas on how to tackle that, I then read the paper and see if my idea solidifies. I usually find a few topics like that, and then compare them until I decide to focus on one in particular.

last point is awesome

it is also the most revolting.

Even the mathematicians do not attend maths lectures that just ramble on about their proofs -- attend them, instead, for the new ideas used in the proofs that may be used to find other stuff.

Reminds me of Gauss and his annoying habit of keeping his results hidden till they could stand free of scaffolding.

#4 has two legitimate (IMO) purposes:

1) To make yourself look smart (or less dumb, at least) by condensing two months of mistakes and fumbling around into a slick, clever one-paragraph proof that (in hindsight) you could've found in an hour.

and 2) Hiding your real methods and inspiration so that you'll still have a leg up on the people reading your paper with regard to extending or improving your own results.

Now when *textbooks* are written like that, that's a different matter.

Indeed, but what's legitimate about these purposes? :)

would it be better if you miss two weeks of class, with your paper all messed up, dressed like indiana jones, tell the teacher you went on a great adventure trololol

step 5: ???
also, rewrite #2 to say "attain exciting new shwoopy loopy results (use magnets for faster attaining)"

some people in our class got suspension for not putting references in the paper....so i gotta say that would be step number 5

If your discovery is sufficiently "out there" on the limits, nobody else is close to it--so who would you reference?

mmmmm, so true, many people out there were wrong then xD

This is sooo true, and not just in the math field. I see this in artificial intelligence research papers all the time. What good does your brilliant breakthrough do if no one can understand it?

As in "Shipwright", by Donald Kingsbury in Analog Apr ’78 --I read it in Imperial Stars, Vol. 2: Republic and Empire.

The first paper demonstrating low-loss optical fiber left the materials expert's name out specifically because everyone in that field knew what he was trying and nobody at Corning wanted their competitors to know his approach eventually ended up working.

Hi Mike,
Your blog's voting has a bug, it can be easily fooled to register negative votes with some minor HTML changes.
I was just trying it, had no intent of harming your blog. Please fix the UPPER LIMIT N LOWER LIMIT of variable "r" that you accept to register the vote. Maths !

Thanks Drew! I think it's fixed now, I put some 'if' statements somewhere in the code.

Thats great. You might also want to fix some invalid vote values like on : http://spikedmath.com/001.html .

Done, I think. All the negative votes are gone at least :D

Mike, Y U NO UPDATE IN TWO WEEKS

I really like this comic strips, especially the last line. People writing papers really tries to make it for others to understand.

Musicians do the same thing; Beethoven left his rewrites to posterity but Brahms put them in the fire. Mozart was just a freak of nature.

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