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Other Finding a mentor/supervisor

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I have a general question about finding a mentor/supervisor to offer guidance in the process of writing an academic paper. I have the paper written but I think I've gone as far as I can on my own, which is where some guidance would be invaluable.

I know the structure and formatting probably need a lot of work. The paper is relatively well referenced, I would say, although there is probably a need for additional citations in places - some well known ideas I didn't reference - and the formatting of the citations themselves probably need some work. Some feedback/critique on the ideas would also be invaluable.

Unfortunately, enrolling in an educational program isn't a viable option a the moment. So, would anyone have any advice on how to proceed in this context?
 
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We don't support or discuss personal research or personal theories here at PF and so I'm afraid your paper can't be discussed.

With respect to improving your papers, formatting and general flow, there's a book by William Zinsser titled On Writing Well that may address some of your questions. He has a chapter on each style of writing with one on writing scientific articles.


Perhaps there is an old prof at your school who can review it and provide tips on improving its format and content. If not then try styling it after some well known recent papers and perhaps look for other papers in the same field and see how they are written. Think like an editor and find the best samples, ie the ones that appeal to you and use them as the basis.
 

PeroK

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I have a general question about finding a mentor/supervisor to offer guidance in the process of writing an academic paper. I have the paper written but I think I've gone as far as I can on my own, which is where some guidance would be invaluable.

I know the structure and formatting probably need a lot of work. The paper is relatively well referenced, I would say, although there is probably a need for additional citations in places - some well known ideas I didn't reference - and the formatting of the citations themselves probably need some work. Some feedback/critique on the ideas would also be invaluable.

Unfortunately, enrolling in an educational program isn't a viable option a the moment. So, would anyone have any advice on how to proceed in this context?
Why not send what you have to a journal and see what they think? If it's worth publishing you may have less to do with it than you think. And, if it's not going to be published for whatever reason then you save yourself the effort of polishing it up.
 
67
9
We don't support or discuss personal research or personal theories here at PF and so I'm afraid your paper can't be discussed.

With respect to improving your papers, formatting and general flow, there's a book by William Zinsser titled On Writing Well that may address some of your questions. He has a chapter on each style of writing with one on writing scientific articles.


Perhaps there is an old prof at your school who can review it and provide tips on improving its format and content. If not then try styling it after some well known recent papers and perhaps look for other papers in the same field and see how they are written. Think like an editor and find the best samples, ie the ones that appeal to you and use them as the basis.
Thanks Jedishrfu, that is very helpful!
 
67
9
Why not send what you have to a journal and see what they think? If it's worth publishing you may have less to do with it than you think. And, if it's not going to be published for whatever reason then you save yourself the effort of polishing it up.
Ah OK, could be worth a try. I was thinking of getting it cleaned up before that but it could be a good shout. Thanks.
 
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However, before you send it make sure you have it in as good a shape as possibile and that you've followed the journals formatting standards.

There's yet another book called "The First Five Pages" that talks about how editors read manuscripts and look for reasons to reject it so they can clear out their inbox.


Some of his suggestions are:
- don't send in a handwritten manuscript
- or one on notebook paper with holes,
- no stain marks,
- good english grammar,
- no spelling errors,
- english errors....

You get the idea no blemishes so they will read what you wrote and then decide on what they will do.

There's also Grammarly which might find gotchas in your writing that you can fix up first too. I've used the Hemingway Editor App to simplify my writing. It works to a point but I suspect Grammarly is much better.


For bigger writing tasks there's several notable apps including Scrivener which is great for organizing your research references as well:

 

berkeman

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Welcome to the PF. :smile:
I have a general question about finding a mentor/supervisor to offer guidance in the process of writing an academic paper. I have the paper written but I think I've gone as far as I can on my own, which is where some guidance would be invaluable.
Here is an Insights Blog article that may be of help. There are a couple other related Insights Blog articles that also may be of help.

 
67
9
However, before you send it make sure you have it in as good a shape as possibile and that you've followed the journals formatting standards.

There's yet another book called "The First Five Pages" that talks about how editors read manuscripts and look for reasons to reject it so they can clear out their inbox.


Some of his suggestions are:
- don't send in a handwritten manuscript
- or one on notebook paper with holes,
- no stain marks,
- good english grammar,
- no spelling errors,
- english errors....

You get the idea no blemishes so they will read what you wrote and then decide on what they will do.

There's also Grammarly which might find gotchas in your writing that you can fix up first too. I've used the Hemingway Editor App to simplify my writing. It works to a point but I suspect Grammarly is much better.


For bigger writing tasks there's several notable apps including Scrivener which is great for organizing your research references as well:

Excellent, thank you! I'll be making use of those
 
67
9

ZapperZ

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Why not send what you have to a journal and see what they think? If it's worth publishing you may have less to do with it than you think. And, if it's not going to be published for whatever reason then you save yourself the effort of polishing it up.
Actually, this is a horrible idea.

Journals are not where you submit half-baked ideas and half-baked manuscripts, as if these journals have nothing better to do than be your quality controller or proof-readers. But not only that, submitting poorly-formed and poorly-prepared manuscript will likely get you an outright rejection, which will typically mean that the door is closed for any chance of you resubmitting the same thing to that journal later.

And, as a bonus, I have no doubt many of these journals keep a record of "crackpots" that have sent them their "glorious submissions", and I hate to think that an unbaked ideas that you sent in will get you listed into this prestigious list.

The problem here is that it appears as if you have never submitted a paper for publication before. This is correct? Many of us went through the "training" of writing and submitting papers as part of our academic pursuit and under a supervision of someone who has had a lot of experience in doing things. So we learned from people who have done it before, and people who actually know the state of knowledge of our area. The latter is important because that person has a feel for not only the level of importance of what one is trying to publish, but also where it might be suitable to be submitted. That last part requires experience, and a lot of experience. A lot of papers would not make it into, say, PRL, but certainly qualify to go into, say, Physica C.

Unless you have someone who can critique and review your intended submission, there isn't much you can do here.

Zz.
 
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67
9
Actually, this is a horrible idea.

Journals are not where you submit half-baked ideas and half-baked manuscripts, as if these journals have nothing better to do than be your quality controller or proof-readers. But not only that, submitting poorly-formed and poorly-prepared manuscript will likely get you an outright rejection, which will typically mean that the door is closed for any chance of you resubmitting the same thing to that journal later.

And, as a bonus, I have no doubt many of these journals keep a record of "crackpots" that have sent them their "glorious submissions", and I hate to think that an unbaked ideas that you sent in will get you listed into this prestigious list.

The problem here is that it appears as if you have never submitted a paper for publication before. This is correct? Many of us went through the "training" of writing and submitting papers as part of our academic pursuit and under a supervision of someone who has had a lot of experience in doing things. So we learned from people who have done it before, and people who actually know the state of knowledge of our area. The latter is important because that person has a feel for not only the level of importance of what one is trying to publish, but also where it might be suitable to be submitted. That last part requires experience, and a lot of experience. A lot of papers would not make it into, say, PRL, but certainly qualify to go into, say, Physica C.

Unless you have someone who can critique and review your intended submission, there isn't much you can do here.

Zz.
Thank you Zz. I already tried sending it to one online magazine but, understandably received a knock-back.

You are correct in that I have never submitted a paper for publication before but I am familiar with the right of passage most people go through. I've tried to follow the formatting of papers I've read, as much as possible, but I've gone as far as I can. I have a few friends and relations who work in academia who are familiar with the process of publishing papers. I've received some help from them but one of them works in biochemistry while another works in the field of AI, so, apart from being swamped with their own stuff they don't necessarily have the expertise to critique the ideas to the level required.

I'll keep plugging away and see if I can find someone to even just have a quick read of it, to see if they think it is even worth pursuing. In the meantime I'll be checking out the resources people have posted here.
 
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Dr. Courtney

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Actually, this is a horrible idea.

Journals are not where you submit half-baked ideas and half-baked manuscripts, as if these journals have nothing better to do than be your quality controller or proof-readers. But not only that, submitting poorly-formed and poorly-prepared manuscript will likely get you an outright rejection, which will typically mean that the door is closed for any chance of you resubmitting the same thing to that journal later.

And, as a bonus, I have no doubt many of these journals keep a record of "crackpots" that have sent them their "glorious submissions", and I hate to think that an unbaked ideas that you sent in will get you listed into this prestigious list.

The problem here is that it appears as if you have never submitted a paper for publication before. This is correct? Many of us went through the "training" of writing and submitting papers as part of our academic pursuit and under a supervision of someone who has had a lot of experience in doing things. So we learned from people who have done it before, and people who actually know the state of knowledge of our area. The latter is important because that person has a feel for not only the level of importance of what one is trying to publish, but also where it might be suitable to be submitted. That last part requires experience, and a lot of experience. A lot of papers would not make it into, say, PRL, but certainly qualify to go into, say, Physica C.

Unless you have someone who can critique and review your intended submission, there isn't much you can do here.

Zz.
I tend to agree with Zz. Submitting immature manuscripts for feedback is not a path to success. But the road to finding a mentor or supervisor to provide feedback is not easy for a layperson who is neither a student nor an expert in a related field.

My colleagues and I get a number of inquiries from lay people who believe that have some significant idea worthy of publication. I tend to give these inquiries more attention than most colleagues I know. Most colleagues quickly put most lay people in the "crackpot" zone, since odds are small that folks without a PhD and who are not currently students majoring in physics are likely to have any worthwhile contribution. You're essentially asking a professional to take time and effort to give you free advice which is unlikely to yield any benefit. Your burden is to make a good first impression in hopes that someone will be willing to give that free advice.

My personal practice is to take time for every student who asks, especially if they have knocked on a few doors at their home institution and not found anyone willing to help them. But the motive here is to nurture and develop the next generation of scientists. Helping lay people who are not even on a likely path to becoming scientists is more of a 1 in a million proposition - like looking for the next Michael Faraday. But the next steps really do depend strongly on what you have on paper already. Send me a PM, I'll give you my email address, and you can send me what you have.

Odds are your field of interest is not something I can supervise or mentor you in, but if it is well referenced and coherent, I may be able to suggest some possible next steps.
 
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Dr. Courtney

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I remembered I had answered a similar question before in greater detail. Recommended reading:

 
67
9
I tend to agree with Zz. Submitting immature manuscripts for feedback is not a path to success. But the road to finding a mentor or supervisor to provide feedback is not easy for a layperson who is neither a student nor an expert in a related field.

My colleagues and I get a number of inquiries from lay people who believe that have some significant idea worthy of publication. I tend to give these inquiries more attention than most colleagues I know. Most colleagues quickly put most lay people in the "crackpot" zone, since odds are small that folks without a PhD and who are not currently students majoring in physics are likely to have any worthwhile contribution. You're essentially asking a professional to take time and effort to give you free advice which is unlikely to yield any benefit. Your burden is to make a good first impression in hopes that someone will be willing to give that free advice.

My personal practice is to take time for every student who asks, especially if they have knocked on a few doors at their home institution and not found anyone willing to help them. But the motive here is to nurture and develop the next generation of scientists. Helping lay people who are not even on a likely path to becoming scientists is more of a 1 in a million proposition - like looking for the next Michael Faraday. But the next steps really do depend strongly on what you have on paper already. Send me a PM, I'll give you my email address, and you can send me what you have.

Odds are your field of interest is not something I can supervise or mentor you in, but if it is well referenced and coherent, I may be able to suggest some possible next steps.
Wow! Thank you Dr.Courtney. I'll PM you now.

I read the links you posted below. I need to have a look at what I've written and see if it matches some of the criteria you've outlined.
 

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