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An amature publishing serious work

  1. Aug 3, 2013 #1
    I have a question which concerns a hypothetical scenario;

    Suppose a person with no academic background was to solve a a great mathematical problem like Fermat's last Therm, the Riemann Hypothesis etc. and they wrote a paper on their proof or solution. Would they be able to get published? [Assuming the solution works] If so how?

    Also, I have always wondered about these journals where scientists and mathematicians send in their work. How do you know if the work is any good that it won't be stolen? Say when Yitang Zhang published his paper which works towards proving the twin prime conjecture, this is a really big thing and that paper is very important. How does he know someone from the Annals of Mathematics won't read it and just write their own name over it?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 3, 2013 #2


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    Hey AlexVGheo.

    Man organizations (especially if they want to be taken seriously) have some kind of code for how they do their business and react to given situations. A decent organization (whatever that may be) should make such things public for anyone doing business with them (whatever that may be).

    In the case that this is still not good enough, you can do what most people do when they are cautious and skeptical of dealing with someone by making a paper trail and documenting all correspondence with the organization so that if something does happen, then you have some evidence to prove it.

    The paper trail can be anything that establishes some kind of valid and verifiable set of data that is exchanged between you and another party.

    If the organization is genuinely reputable, then they probably will not want to jeopardize their reputation by doing something stupid as stealing an idea: once someone loses their reputation, it can mean the death of that organization since people will not trust them in the same way.

    In the case that you wanted to garner support for your theory/paper/proof, I would suggest that you do the following:

    1) Adhere to the expected terminology and language used in the profession and in the place where you will publish
    2) Keep the paper as simple as possible, and get to the point early on (i.e. don't waste their time trying to make your point and use un-necessary amount of space and language to convey your message)
    3) Point out the key ideas in the start by using only a few paragraphs and keep it as short as you can
    4) Remember that you are on their time so if someone decides to read your document, treat them like a human being and be patient with them
    5) If someone is willing to vouch for you in some way, then do not screw them around.

    You should also get an idea of what not to do by searching the internet for guides on what annoys professionals and wastes their time on what most term "crack-pots". This label is thrown around as a blanket term and while I don't agree with the abuse of this word (as a way to silence and to paint them with a brush), it is a real phenomenon and it will affect how far you will get with help from professionals in the field.
  4. Aug 3, 2013 #3
    Brilliant, very inclusive reply. Thank you =).
  5. Aug 3, 2013 #4
    Publish your paper on a pre-print server such as arxiv. This way it will get a timestamp and nobody can steal the work. If they do, you just need to refer to your arxiv document to prove that you wrote it first.

    That said, to publish on the arxiv, you need somebody to endorse your paper. But there are always other pre-print servers out there.
  6. Aug 3, 2013 #5


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    ^^ Good information. I've wondered the same thing in the past. I was actually having a discussion with someone about this the other night. I wish I would have read this before that!!

    On a side note, Fermat's Last Theorem has already been proven. There's a great BBC documentary about Andrew Wiles and how he proved it...I highly recommend it.

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  7. Aug 4, 2013 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    That's not a side note. That's critical - a major problem with these is a lack of knowledge of what has gone before and what else is going on in the field. Without that, these papers are worthless. Unfortunately, the authors don't like being told that their papers are worthless, and that the reason they are worthless it's because they didn't do their homework.

    I've said this before - the scientific literature is a dialog, and writing paper without reading what's out there is talking without listening. It's not just rude - it's uncommunicative.
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