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High school student submitting a paper?

  1. Apr 22, 2014 #1
    Good morning,

    I would like to ask for a piece of advice. I am in the third grade of high school, and I am thinking of submitting a scientific paper to A&A. I have made a lot of research on particle acceleration in Tycho supernova remnant, I have also won many competitions and mainly, discussed my research with the most respected astrophysicists from this field at the last AAS meeting in Washington. They were all quite interested in what I have been doing and told me that so far they are not aware of any errors or neglects I could have made. I finished my research a month ago, and I think that I managed to reach a very interesting conclusion - that the cosmic-rays are accelerated up to 0.58 PeV in Tycho and that the magnetic field amplification is indeed taking place there. I have found very good arguments and proofs for this (for me), however, I am really scared of submitting a paper. I wrote about my results to some of the professors I met at the meeting, but they all told they have no time to review what I wrote, but that I should try to submit a paper, since it is quite an important finding.

    I am literally scared - I would like to study this field when I am older, and hence I am afraid that if I really made some basic, stupid mistake, people I want to work with in the future will start to consider me ignorant and stupid. Not a good perspective for someone who is still in the beginning of his career. Moreover, I am also afraid that the review of my article will be influenced much by the fact that I am just a 17 years old girl. I have been reading scholarly articles for about three years, I know the appropriate form precisely, I know latex, I know the process of submission, but still... But on the other hand, I would really love to have my own publication after those two-three years of thorough research and studying. Moreover, it would increase my chances at scientific fairs and on getting scholarship. I have asked many people studying physics to check my calculations, but all of them said that "yes, it seems alright, but I am not specialised in this topic so I can't say whether you did not forget something important" (I admit, it is a very narrow topic).

    What should I do? Should I just "let it be" and focus on my education, or should I risk my "name" and submit it although I am so young, uneducated and inexperienced? Many of you probably are people who read/review articles in journals, would you consider such a submission unwise and absurd?

    Thank you much for your advice,
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 22, 2014 #2


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    1. Find an expert to read your manuscript. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Many of us are inundated by unsolicited requests to read this and that, from people claiming to have discovered the best thing since sliced bread. So if you can go through one of your teachers, get an expert to evaluate your work and ask if it has any value and importance, besides the requirement that it is correct/valid. You may even need his/her endorsement to accompany your submission.

    2. You need to understand the format and the language required by a particular journal for publication. Most journals have strict requirement in terms of the style that they want the submission in. And I'm not talking just about the typesetting. I'm talking about page length, sections, etc.

    3. Figure out the "language" that are often used in that journal. The biggest issue that I see with amateurs submitting their work is that they do not get the "presentation style" of scientific papers. These can't be learned. They can only be acquired after you are mentored by someone who had done this many times, and something that you get only after repeatedly doing this in submitting your own papers.

  4. Apr 22, 2014 #3
    ZapperZ's first point is I think the most important one. Points 2,3 will be dealt with if you can find an expert to read your manuscript. Ask the professors again, try calling them in person, maybe make them a co-author, then the paper will 'count' for their department. Ask them if they know somebody that is willing to help you.

    When you submit a paper, nobody will know you are 17 years old, and they don't care. They also don't care that you are a girl. The paper will be handed to some experts who will read the paper and judge it on content. If it gets rejected, nobody will know except for 2-3 reviewers and it will certainly not put your reputation at risk. Everybody gets a rejection once in a while.
  5. Apr 22, 2014 #4
    Thank you both very much, I am going to do it then :-)
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