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How to write the abstract for a paper

  1. May 15, 2005 #1
    This and your other posts here are good info. Thanks.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 15, 2005 #2
    That's good to know. It is also nice to see, from looking around, that the full copyright need not be assigned over.

    Do you format your paper to the specifications of Journal A, submit, wait, and if rejected format your paper to the specifications of Journal B, submit, wait, and so on?

    The rest of your recent posts make great points.
     
  4. May 16, 2005 #3

    Moonbear

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    Yes, because you can't submit to more than one journal at a time. Most times, my papers are accepted to the first journal (with revisions, which means the reviewers comments are minor issues that you need to address, but as long as you can make their suggested revisions, it will be accepted), though a few times I've needed to submit to a second journal when I've misgauged the interest of a particular journal for my work. It's just a matter of knowing what is published in the journals in your field to know which ones are most appropriate to submit your work to. That saves a lot of time. The formatting changes rarely require more than an hour or two of effort in changing the format for the references (just check the new format in EndNote and let it do the work; before good reference software, that used to be the biggest pain of resubmission having to change all the reference format by hand, especially if one journal wants them numbered in order of appearance and another wants author names and dates as internal citations and an alphabetical bibliography) and some picky details about section headings or what should or shouldn't be italicized. In addition, if I resubmit to a second journal, I'll incorporate the comments of the first reviewers to ensure it's as good as it can be going in (it would be foolish to ignore their suggestions).
     
  5. May 16, 2005 #4
    Excellent. Thanks Moonbear. You and ZapperZ have convinced me to give it the college try by submitting my paper to a peer-reviewed journal. I'll look into EndNote; my feeling is that as long as it’s clearly presented with all the basic ingredients (reproducible experimental confirmation, full references, etc.) then they should overlook that I used a 14-point font for a heading instead of a 13-point font, say, at least for the first pass. (Also the paper is longer, at 6K words, than I see some journals allowing—the thing seems as brief as I can put it.) The paper is intended to have broad implications for astrophysics. Can you (or ZapperZ) please advise me, if you have an idea, what is the best order of journals to submit such a paper to?

    Another question, kinda hard to put: Being a minimalist, I take valid shortcuts. For example, I derive a new equation by showing logically that one expression can be substituted for another in a derivation of an equation in a referenced book from an authoritative source. My derivation is just a paragraph explaining the logic path, saving several pages over including the full derivation. Having not read a lot of physics papers, I don’t know whether this technique is typical or, if not, would be accepted. What do you think?
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2005
  6. May 23, 2005 #5
    I happened to pass along here. and here is the thread BTW.

    I think not. At least one person in the field may consider it to have some merit.

    There is a problem. We would need astro physicists, geophysicist, geologists, climatologists, chemical specialists and perhaps a few more and each of them claims not to have the expertise in the other areas to judge. So where do you begin as John Doe, who happened to toy a little with some thoughts.

    So you see a planet, (observe a phenomenon), have a idea (conservation of energy), test it slightly (like in the thread), make "retrodictions" (facts that already have been found out, but you don't know that yet), see them come true. Start really studying the stuff, also exceeding several boundaries of specialism. Then you find out, you stumbled upon the jackpot when all the pieces fit together exactly. But how are you ever going to let the world know?
     
  7. May 23, 2005 #6

    ZapperZ

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    You send it to a peer-reviewed journal that publishes astrophysical papers! How do you think the REST of us do it? By "publishing" it on internet forums? I think even you are not that naive on this. Maybe it's just me, but I find that revealing such an idea on places such as this is extremely foolish.

    Zz.
     
  8. May 24, 2005 #7
    As long as the peer-reviewed journals give everyone a fair shake, I buy that. That is, as long as they don't summarily reject due to lack of credentials or having some initial atypical formatting or whatever other non-scientific reasoning.

    Were I running a peer-reviewed journal, I would summarily reject for lack of credentials, maybe like arxiv.org does it, where you have to have a .edu suffix on your email address. That would seem economically prudent. After all, my journal's top priority is profit, not science.
     
  9. May 24, 2005 #8

    arildno

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    Profit???

    If you want to get rich in a hurry (or, at all), publishing a technical journal is a very bad career move..
     
  10. May 24, 2005 #9
    Surely they don't expect great wealth, but do have a top priority of meeting payroll and delivering some gravy to the owners. I would think sifting through reams of uncredentialed papers would be a path to bankruptcy.
     
  11. May 24, 2005 #10
    Right, first of all, if it was to be rich&famous, it was indeed very foolish to discuss new ideas on a forum. But we're just talking about a hobby that has escalated. Now what do you do if you discover that you have stumbled upon something big. of course I have written publishers: "Dear Mr Crackpot, we regret to inform you that we are not interested in rubbish, regards, the editors"

    So what do the editors know. It would take at least a day of grasping the idea and check the references before being able to judge it on it's merits. So I was merely looking for Prof Dr Sciencepope etc who would concede that the idea might be worth another thought.

    But then again, you also have to face the scientific revolution mechanism of Thomas Kuhn trespassing on several terrains of expertise and tell the specialists that they are totally wrong.

    So I realized from the onset that I did stand a change whatsoever. Only being called "extremely foolish" by whomever side you approach.

    The biggest error I made, think, was assuming that "theory devellopment" stood for "theory devellopment" and not realizing that it was "crackpot trap".

    At least I have done my duty and informed the world about a possible flaw of terrestrial planets that may or may not have huge impacts on Earth.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2005
  12. May 24, 2005 #11

    ZapperZ

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    You will note that the two most prestigious journals for physics (Science and Phys. Rev. Lett.), are all run by NON-PROFIT organization. I have no idea about Nature, but I won't be suprised if it is also. Phys. Rev. Lett, in fact, is part of the Physical Review journal systems run by the American Physical Society, which is the professional society for physicists and physics enthusiasts (meaning you don't need a physics degree to be a member!).

    The Arxiv site requires NO CREDENTIALS. However, after being innundated by clear quackery with their open system, they now require an "endorsement" of a new author by someone who already is part of their author database <waves hand>. If you look at some of the papers that got thru, even people without any valid credentials are there. However, note that Arxiv is NOT peer-reviewed!

    I would also recommend you read the Barschall commision report on the list of top journals that make a significant impact on the body of knowledge in physics. You'll be surprised that the majority listed in the top 10 or 20 are published by non-profit, professional organizations! Check who publishes the Journal of Physics series, the European Journal of Physics series, etc.. etc.

    Zz.
     
  13. May 24, 2005 #12

    ZapperZ

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    1. Did you follow the "rules" set by the journal? And I'm not talking about scientific content, but rather the format being required, and how it was presented? Did you think all the papers that I wrote did not go through several dozens iterations by various people just to get it right BEFORE we sent it in for publication? Have you ever considered how MUCH we pay attention to not just what we say, but HOW we say it? Journal editors will reject immediately if your manuscript appear amateurish and illegible, because a typical reader of that journal know what format to expect when they pick up so-and-so journal. I certainly know what to expect when I pick up a PRL article.

    2. Did you ever had it reviewed by someone else? Even the best of us give our manuscript to someone we trust and respect to see if (i) we're just not fooling ourselves in the importance of what we have and (ii) if what we are trying to convey is clear. Again, I have never written a paper that never went through unscathed after being passed around to several people. You would be SUPRISED that what you think is obvious, is actually very vague based on what you wrote. An editor, or even a referee, can reject a submission if it is confusing. A vague and confusing article does more harm than a wrong, but clear paper!

    I can rattle off many other issues that your submission could be rejected without even going into the scientific content of it yet!

    Keep in mind also that for many physics journals, they hire physics phd's, AND, assign associate editors for various fields of physics someone who majored in that field (look at the job opening ads by the Physical Review). So you are not getting some Joe Schmoe with an MBA who is judging and rejecting your paper.

    And of course, anyone with an opinion should be taken seriously even if that opinion was formed out of ignorance? Let's get REAL here.

    And unfortunately, no ideas that solely appear on an internet open forum have many ANY significant dent in the body of knowledge of physics (even astrophysics). We're talking about a batting average of absolute zero here.

    Zz.
     
  14. May 24, 2005 #13
    Good to know, thanks. I had seen that Science was non-profit, but figured that was atypical. Unless my masters-in-physics friend who's reviewing my paper now can show me I'm full of crap, I'll be submitting it to at least one journal, so I'll post my layman's experience with that here. I don't have other names for the "list 5 potential reviewers of your paper" required criteria, so I guess I'll put "unknown" for that and see what happens.
     
  15. May 24, 2005 #14

    arildno

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    "Nature" is ultimately owned by the family-run German "Verlagsgruppe Georg v. Holzbrinck" (which, BTW, also owns the German newspaper "Die Zeit")

    So "Nature" is a bit anomalous in this respect.
     
  16. May 24, 2005 #15
    OK Here is the abstract. What would an editor do after reading that?

     
    Last edited: May 24, 2005
  17. May 24, 2005 #16

    ZapperZ

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    Can you point to me a journal that would tolerate an "abstract" THAT long with multiple paragraph? If I were an editor of that journal (for the sake of argument, let's choose PRL), my first impression would be:

    1. This person haven't paid any attention to the journal guidelines

    2. This person has no clue what is the purpose of an "abstract"

    3. Based on 1 and 2, he/she has probably never published a scientific paper before

    4. Since it is submitted in the current form, it also probably means that no one else was used either as a consultant, proof-reader, or advisor. This is especially true if it is from a single author.

    Again, without even going into the content YET, there will be already bells and warning signs that something isn't kosher.

    Zz.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2005
  18. May 24, 2005 #17
    Then why not post in the discussion thread what was wrong. That's what the thread was for. Moreover, the current paper is 20,000 words. So the abstract is far less than 5% the norm I know in my profession. But you have said it. It's so f*** toe-curling "counter-intuitive" that it can't be right. So don't bother, just another crackpot.

    And which advisor did you think was going to read it for me. Nobody here has offered to do it or has declined when requested to do so.
     
  19. May 24, 2005 #18

    ZapperZ

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    1. You ASKED what was wrong with the abstract. So I told you based SIMPLY on the format.

    2. Unless I missed this, you are aiming for a physics/physical science journal. What does your "profession" have anything to do with the format of the journal that you were aiming for? You abide by the guideline of the journal - not the journal abiding by the guideline of your profession! I did say for the sake of argument, I used PRL as an example since I know it VERY well and its level of prestigue is unquestionable. (you DID know that PRL papers have a maximum of FOUR typeset pages, don't you?) Even the regular Physical Rev. journals have severe limits on how long an abstract can be.

    3. Where did I say "...It's so f*** toe-curling "counter-intuitive" that it can't be right"? As I have stressed so far, without even going into the scientific content, if I see that kind of an abstract, a whole series of problems have already emerged without even sending this off to the referees.

    4. Let me get this perfectly clear. You were hoping to find an "advisor" ON AN OPEN INTERNET FORUM to an article you were hoping to send to a peer-reviewed journal???!!!! And you see nothing even remotely dubious about that?

    Zz.
     
  20. May 24, 2005 #19

    Tom Mattson

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    We've actually had a discussion about the Earth Sciences Forum in the Mentor's Private Forum. ZapperZ hit the nail right on the head when he said:

    The simple fact of the matter is that we don't have Science Advisors who are experts in planetary sciences. If we did then we could accomodate you.

    1. No one here owes you an audience.
    2. PF does not owe you a chance to air out your theories.

    And even if the Science Advisors here did agree to review your work: Of what value would that review be? None of them are qualified to do it. Reviews from non-qualified personnel aren't going to be of any help to you. What good would it be for you to get approval from a biologist, an experimental physicists, and a string theorist? What weight would that carry among scientists in the field? None at all.

    Have you looked for a Usenet group for experts to talk to? There must be one that is appropriate for you.
     
  21. May 24, 2005 #20

    ZapperZ

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    Exactly, Tom. Which is why I cringe each time I read someone wanting a serious critique of some work they came up with on an open forum, even from some place as good as PF here. How in the world would that person know the credentials of the person offering the critique? If all one cares about is getting volunteers to read one's work, then go on Usenet as you've suggested or any of the other open forums. There's bound to be some joe schmoe who would volunteer to read anything! But is this the kind of review one wants?

    People seem to forget that it requires a LOT of effort to be good at something, or to be considered an expert in a particular field. More often than not, it involves NOT just knowledge, but also the STATE of knowledge in that field at any given time! I could be very good in knowing the physics of tunneling, but if I do not follow the most recent research reports on that phenomenon, or its most recent use in the study of various materials, then I am someone who is out of touch with the current progress of that knowledge. I can only review a tunneling paper based on the physics, but I cannot tell you if someone else has done it, someone else has made newer results, or if someone else has falsified that particular line of work! It is why refereeing a paper can be damn time consuming - you sometime end up doing almost as much literature search as the authors!

    Whatever the feelings about crackpottery or TD, or anything else, there is ONE thing that cannot be denied: you need someone who is an expert in THAT particular area of study to comment on your paper, and not some annonymous, credentially-unverified stiff that volunteered on an internet forum!

    Zz.
     
  22. May 24, 2005 #21
    You said:
    Which I interpreted like editors would do as:

    I was not aiming at any particular journal. I was aiming to write down a thesis using the scientific method and attempting to fill in all caveats, overthrowing hypotheses in different expertises. But the scope is way too big to fit into four pages when you have to explain why the delta gravity correlate so strongly with the geographic (errm Venographic) features especially the coronea, and you have to point out at the same time what the flaws are of Kastings solution to the mission oxygen problem and Laskars problem with the spinning slow down etc etc.

    So again, trespassing on all those terrains is not going to help. And yes I was naive enough to think that a science forum would have enough qualified members to help solve the problems.

    I'm the proverbal sadder and wiser man now. Not much chance and I hope to be still around in that 30 years we have to wait for these kinds of paradigm changes.
     
  23. May 24, 2005 #22

    Monique

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    You could split the manuscript up into several papers. Also, journals have specific guidelines for the style of manuscripts; familiarize yourself with the guidelines and follow the style of published papers. A paper consisting of 20,000 words and such a long abstract really pushes the limits in my opinion.
     
  24. May 24, 2005 #23

    Nereid

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    Andre, in the gentlest possible way, I must tell you that you were incredibly naive.

    PF is a relatively new thing, and its members (which include Science Advisors, SuperMentors, and more) have very wide and diverse ages, experiences, interests, degrees, qualifications, and competencies.

    HOWEVER, there is no certainty that there is even one with the relevant combination - plus incentive, motivation, etc - who could give you feedback (public or private) that would materially move your paper+idea along.

    And FWIW, despite PF being one of the best on the internet (as I think you can personally attest), these fora will likely take a decade or three to evolve to more effectively cater to your needs.
    With respect, and begging every reader's indulgence, this is c***.

    The popularisation of the works of Kuhn, Popper*, etc has been a boon, yet also a curse.

    ZapperZ has written - many times - about the appalling ineffectiveness of alternatives to the 'mainstream processes' (sidenote: I'm still keeping open a way of questioning/challenging/testing his assertions, in terms of their relevance to such an observationally-based science as astronomy) - the humbling 'take-home message' is that ideas are, in fact, almost valueless :surprised - what *really* matters is the ability to DO something with the ideas.

    In the case of your idea (which you have presented several times here on PF), *IF* there were someone who could properly appreciate it (e.g. has the requisite expertise and incentive) *AND* who thought the idea had legs, the next you'd know about it would be either as a pre-print, a published paper, or (perhaps) a private communication seeking your approval/involvement ...

    Back to Kuhn: subsequent to his landmark book, scholars in the field thoroughly trashed his thesis ... it turns out that science, in fact (according to scientific studies of science) doesn't work like that :surprised :surprised :surprised - it's an active field of (scientific) investigations, but Lakatos is closer - by far - to the mark that Kuhn.

    *ironically, many scientists (still) spout Popper (he of 'falsification'), despite the fact that his ideas were among the easiest to show as inconsistent with what scientists actually DO! But then, most physicists are just as human as most philosophers, and have neither the time nor inclination to follow what the others are *actually* doing.
     
  25. May 24, 2005 #24

    ZapperZ

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    That is a VERY NASTY thing you did. If you have bothered to quote the ENTIRE SENTENCE, which was:

    "Again, without even going into the content YET, there will be already bells and warning signs that something isn't kosher."

    why did you conveniently ignored the "without even going into the content YET..." part? I clearly indicated that this was purely an evaluation on procedural grounds! I hate to think this is how you read and interpret the subject matter you are trying to write!

    Then AIM for a particular journal, study its content, figure out what KIND of papers it publish, look at what caliber and level are expected, etc. etc.. Do not blame your ignorance of the procedural requirement as an excuse. We ALL had to figure these things out ourselves. You are no different nor special.

    And how would you determined who is "qualified"? I could easily FOOL you into thinking that I'm "qualified". Would you like me to do that just so we could pacify you into thinking all is now well and your work was "reviewed" by a qualified person? Is this all that you want?

    You were expecting that YOU are the impetus for such "paradigm change"? And do you think such earth shaking revolution in thinking occurs as often as one changes underwear, or the appearence of a new diet fad? I'll say this again: get real!

    Zz.
     
  26. May 24, 2005 #25

    Moonbear

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    And I'd agree with you on this point. Most journals I submit to do not allow an abstract over 2500 characters. If you submit four or five paragraphs of text, it shows disregard for instructions to authors everyone submitting to that journal must follow. If there's a 4 page limit, and someone submits the equivalent of 10 or 15 pages, or more, then it won't be considered; that's not a minor formatting issue, that's completely inappropriate for the journal's requirements. If something requires a longer explanation, then choose a journal amenable to longer articles. In my own field, there are journals that have pretty strict limits on length, where an article wouldn't be more than 4 or 5 pages long, and others where they'd eye you suspiciously if you submitted something LESS than 15 pages long, just due to the different focuses and topics those journals publish.

    Yep, it's a waste of time if you want to publish something to write it without consideration of the journal you will submit it to. That's actually the FIRST step of the writing process, before there is a single word on paper, I discuss with my co-authors which journal is most suitable, and then write it for that journal, following all the guidelines to the letter.

    This is my concern of using a forum such as this for such a purpose. Everyone here is anonymous. There are exactly three people at this site (as far as I recall anyway), who know my real identity, and only one of those with the wherewithall to confirm my credentials and areas of expertise. So, I could come along and say I was an expert in anything I wanted, and offer a critique that's completely worthless, and there would be no way to verify who I really am.

    To Zanket: if you're planning to submit to a journal and whatever format you currently have your paper written in doesn't comply with the journal's requirements, no matter how minor, take the time to change the format. It's not so hard to follow the instructions, add numbers to your lines, re-size the font, use the correct section headers, format the bibliography correctly, etc. None of us submit anything until we and our co-authors can't find another mistake in it. Once I get a final draft written, it can take another month or two of passing it around to my co-authors and a few other colleagues to get input and suggested revisions befor I submit. You want to put your absolute best foot forward. Give it all the seriousness you would give a job interview. No matter how qualified you are for a job, you wouldn't walk into the interview in jeans and a t-shirt. Same thing for submitting a manuscript, no matter how good the content, you don't want to tarnish the reviewers' impression by submitting something riddled with typos or poorly formatted.
     
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