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DIY Math research

  1. Feb 15, 2010 #1
    I've been having a nagging thought. I've just recently switched from CompSci to Math and while research is important for a CompSci student, research is pretty much *the goal* for a Math student. So getting into a research program would probably be my main goal from now until graduation. But I'm not going in without a backup plan.

    I'd like to know: what could I do with myself if I can't get into undergrad research? Is it possible to do math research on your own? Ignore the naiviety of that question for a moment.

    What prevents individuals from submitting academic papers without a college backing them? Okay, you do need some experts reviewing your work. And yes, I know it would be time consuming, but I'm betting that grad schools will be competitve. And I'm not a charismatic genius that can sway faculty to take me on.

    I just want to have some papers in my name when it comes time to apply for grad school, and I'm willing to put in the extra work to make it happen. How crazy would it be if I started tackling problems undergrad research problems and at least blogging about my attempts, if not just submitting something to arxiv when I'm ready for it to be reviewed?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 15, 2010 #2
    Look some more and look outside your research. There's tons of very quantitative research being done in every field, and if a math professor doesn't want you a sociology professor may be thrilled to get you on board to crunch some numbers.

    I had a friend who did this, but he started with a problem given to him by a professor and it wasn't seen as a great move because he had no credentials. The biggest problem with undergrad research is that you don't really know the field, so you likely don't know what the solved problems and fields of interest are, basically what's worth publishing. The other aspect is the politics game: which journals would accept you, which ones won't touch your work, and which ones could actually hurt your reputation to be published in.

    So hit up every professor in your school, offer free work, and stay motivated. It's very likley that someone will take you on, especially if you prove to require very little supervision and manage to get things done.
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