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How do I publish scientific papers?

  • Thread starter loopguy
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I am a freshman at a university (I'm 16 years old- skipped 2 grades in school) and I'm planning to major in physics. After reading more specialized books in the library, and having some discussions with professors I have come up with a couple ideas that I would like to develop further and eventually publish. I am very skilled at mathematics and physics though I hardly have any good computer skills. I just want to know what kind of technologies that I can use to write scientific papers on the computer? What do most scientists use? Thanks so much.
 

cristo

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You should learn latex: http://www.latex-project.org/. However, it would be more important to actually do the research before thinking about writing up something that doesn't exist :wink:
 

Choppy

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I agree with Cristo, that it's a good idea to first do the work and I would add that it's important to develop a formal education in your field before trying to publish anything.

However, I personally feel that the craft of scientific writing is largely ignored in undergraduate education and so I think there would certainly be a benefit to anyone who tries to write a paper at your level, even if it doesn't lead to anything in the first few years.
 
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For starters you wont be publishing anything yourself for a good long time, if you are going to be doing lots of research work at University it'll be the project leader (your dr/professor) that publishes it but you'll have your name on it.

After a while (read 10 - 15 years) you will most likely be offered your own research project, then you get to be top name on it.

My advice would be to talk to any Professor that is currently trying to get a paper published, ask him/her about the process. Read abstracts in areas that you are interested in, then if you like the abstact see about getting the paper.
 

Choppy

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For starters you wont be publishing anything yourself for a good long time, if you are going to be doing lots of research work at University it'll be the project leader (your dr/professor) that publishes it but you'll have your name on it.

After a while (read 10 - 15 years) you will most likely be offered your own research project, then you get to be top name on it.

My advice would be to talk to any Professor that is currently trying to get a paper published, ask him/her about the process. Read abstracts in areas that you are interested in, then if you like the abstact see about getting the paper.
I think it's important to point out that it doesn't work this way in all fields. As a graduate student at the Ph.D. level (in my field anyway), you should be aiming to put together your first paper as the primary author.
 

cristo

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As a graduate student at the Ph.D. level (in my field anyway), you should be aiming to put together your first paper as the primary author.
Agreed. There are different fields (or branches of fields) again where names are always put on papers in alphabetical order, so it really does depend upon your discipline as to when you will obtain your first first author paper.
 
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I think it's important to point out that it doesn't work this way in all fields. As a graduate student at the Ph.D. level (in my field anyway), you should be aiming to put together your first paper as the primary author.
What field are you in Choppy?
 

eri

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It's not unreasonable to hope for a first-author publication as an undergrad - I know a few people who managed it (more of us had co-author publications) and even one undergrad who got a paper published in Nature (with a large and prestigious collaboration). But first year? Not as likely. Textbooks aren't going to help as much as you'd think getting to your first publication - peer-reviewed articles reflect the state of the field. It often takes years for something to end up in textbooks. While they are a good place to start, next you need to read up on the recent research in those fields.

I suggest you go back and talk to the professors again and tell them about your ideas. They can help you put together a project that you can research based on the skills you have, they'll know what's been done, and they can help you narrow it down and suggest papers to read. And yes, learn LaTeX. It's very useful (and makes all your papers for college look very professional).

EDIT: Should have mentioned I'm in astrophysics.
 
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Its fairly difficult to get work published at the best of times, i'm really impressed that people have had first author pulications as undergraduates.

I'm in engineering and really don't care about the academic side, design work for me all the way. My girlfirend (an undergraduate on her year in industry) will have her name on 2 papers by the end of the year hopefully.
 

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