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Where should I submit my paper?

  1. Dec 6, 2011 #1
    Hello, some time ago I've started thinking about aspects of physics, and came up with an experiment that could have provided very surprising results. I performed the experiment, and no surprising results came up. However, this negative result is still a new result, also the experiment and the thought experiment seem to possibly be quite thought inspiring, the entire thing might hopefully be received well among physics enthusiasts.
    However, due to it simply being a negative result, it isn't all that important. I've written a paper anyway and tried sending it to Nature and Science as those seem to be the journals with the highest impact factors but not completely unsurprisingly, they both send a reply back along the lines that it just wasn't important enough for them,that it wasn't a breakthrough and wouldn't have priority over other papers.
    No comments were made about the opinions of their editors if it is actual science, but it probably never even made it to the peer review process.

    So, I'm trying to find a new place now, but I honestly wouldn't know where to start. I'm not connected to the academic world in any way, and just sending the paper to all journals sounds like a horrible idea. Some journals would require the complete paper to be rewritten to fit their standards, and honestly I'm not looking forwards to have to rewrite it over and over. So I thought it would be a good idea to ask here where to try first, and to which journals I should definitely submit it.

    Some info:
    - I would like it to be peerreviewed, to improve the impact it might have.
    - The experiment mainly confirms that some ideas of reality are right/that no violations of these ideas can be produced by this method.
    - It touches several concepts within physics that are often named in popsci and scifi and gives an extra confirmation that they are impossible.
    - The experiment itself is really quite simple. It's relatively easy to understand for anyone with some interest in science, it does not involve math that would go over the head of an average highschool student.
    - I can't really come up with any comparable experiments that would make it clearer to show what kind of an experiment it is without revealing the actual thing. It seems to be very unique. The closest I could find was this proposed experiment: http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/quant-ph/9510007 but it completely differs in methods, setup and possible results. And ofcourse this is an actual performed experiment rather than a proposed one.
    - I did send it to some scientists in the field earlier on, none of which told me that the logic behind it itself was flawed. However they seemed to agree that there was absolutely no chance that the surprising results would become true, because that would go against many established concepts in science.

    So if anyone has any ideas for journals to which it could be submitted, then that would be much appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 6, 2011 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    You should submit it to a journal that you are reading regularly. If you aren't reading any journals regularly, the paper is almost certainly worthless. It's hard enough to make a contribution when you are well informed on past and present thinking. Without that, it's impossible.
  4. Dec 6, 2011 #3
    @Felian: As Vanadium 50 pointed out, it is unlikely that you've made a breakthrough if you're not following the present literature and reading journals. However, I'm not here to judge your work, and if there's a chance, however slim, of you deserving recognition, then I believe you should get that recognition.

    I believe you can publish it online on arXiv. Notice that Perelman's proof of the Poincare Conjecture was posted there (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poincaré_conjecture), and Perelman got the recognition he deserved. arXiv is commonly used among mathematicians and physicists to show others their work even before that work is actually published on a journal.

    It will not be peer-reviewed: essentially, it will either sink or swim.
  5. Dec 6, 2011 #4
    I see. No I don't regularly read any journals, but I did research many online versions of papers related to the subject. Of course it would be a pretty terrible idea to throw out a couple months of work based on some hunch that it may be worthless, so I would rather get it peer reviewed somewhere than throw the idea out myself. Especially because the idea itself has never been mentioned anywhere, and I'm quite sure it would be more interesting of an idea than a somewhat related idea which is very well known.

    That's my main objection against arXiv, which I will consider if I can't find a journal. But I would much rather have it peerreviewed. If it goes through a peerreview, then it's a great positive point, if it doesn't, then it prevents something false from entering the minds of people.
  6. Dec 6, 2011 #5
    I don't think there's much of a problem if people learn something only to discover later that it is wrong. That's how science work. Ever heard of polywater? Peer review is also no guarantee of truth, as some rather embarrassing cases have shown.

    I do understand that publishing it on a respectable journal sounds better. But you make some strong (albeit vague) claims here, and journals tend to be conservative - they might reject it outright just because of your tone. You seem to have few (if none) references, even though you've been reading the literature. No other scientist has endorsed your point of view (not rejecting isn't exactly the same thing as supporting it). Mentioning science fiction (even when you are disproving it) in a paper seems to be awfully amateur. And saying that no math beyond high-school lever is required to understand it makes people feel you are a crackpot.

    Essentially, they're going to think you fit those descriptions, without even reading a single line on your paper: http://www.staff.science.uu.nl/~hooft101/theoristbad.html

    (personally, when I first read your post, that was what came to my mind. I've read many, many absurd theories online, and usually, claims are vague, related to science fiction, use basic level math and promise to be revolutionary. You just fit that stereotype. However, I decided to give you a shot.)

    Now, I don't want to be discouraging. If you're absolutely convinced that it is sound science, and you're willing to abdicate from the protection of anonymity and make that claim publicly (facing shame or recognition), it doesn't really matter it's arXiv or a respected journal. You just need to publish it where specialist in that field can read, appreciate and judge your work. When you do it, please make it look more professional - remove claims of rejecting science fiction (it's FICTION, how could it not be rejected?) and high school math.

    Also, notice that the description in your original post is as vague and undefined as it can be. If you want us to tell where should you publish it, you should give us at least some definition of the field it pertains to. Is it relativity? Quantum mechanics? Fluid mechanics? It's hard for us to point out where can you get read by specialists from a particular area of physics if you don't tell us what that area is.
  7. Dec 6, 2011 #6
    Thanks for giving me a shot. All that talk about scifi and highschool mathematics isn't in the paper of course, but I felt it might be good to say that here to help in a journal finding process. The main thing I meant with that is that the style of the journal shouldn't really matter unless such a journal would require a paper to be very mathy (do such papers exist in physics?). Claims presented are simply in the form of: "these results provide an additional piece of evidence for x because y, which also makes z unlikely".

    The paper lies mostly within the field Quantum Mechanics but the results have a small amount of overlap to other fields.

    Edit: My ideas are not revolutionary, they are just providing some evidence for already established ideas in a new way. And this new way through which this evidence is provided might be thought inspiring.
  8. Dec 6, 2011 #7
    Peer review is a bad way to have peers review your idea. If the paper seems to be obvious rubbish to the peer reviewer, they'll stamp "don't publish" without telling you why.

    Professionals in this situation usually just walk over to a friends office, discuss the idea over coffee. Usually if you bring up an idea to a colleague, they'll find a dozen things wrong with it, at which point you go back to your office and fix the problems. Once you've gone through a few iterations, then you submit the idea for publication.

    Also submitting a paper for publication is a big step. Most professionals will not submit a paper until they are satisfied that its good. The problem is that drafts get circulated, and if it's a rubbish paper, then it's embarrassing to have your name on it. In astrophysics, post-submission peer review is not an important part of the process, because by the time it gets published, everyone has already read it as a preprint.

    The other thing is that a paper is usually part of a long conversation. If you haven't read previous work on the topic, then it's impossible to discuss how your paper fits into that conversation.

    Unless you've done a lot of reading, you won't know that it's never been mentioned anywhere. It will be embarrassing if you claim that no one has ever thought of this idea when in fact, someone thought of it in 1935, and it didn't work. One problem with newbies is that they often wildly overestimate how original an idea is.

    That's another mistake that newbies make. The purpose of writing a theoretical paper is not to be *true*. It's to be *interesting*. For example, if I come up with a new idea for how supernova work. I have no clue whether it is true or not. That's up to the observers to tell me. What I can say is that if you assume X, Y, and Z, you get result A, and then it's up to the observers to tell me if they get A.
  9. Dec 6, 2011 #8
    The style of a journal matters a lot. For example, in astrophysics, if I think I've been contacted by space aliens, I'd want to publish in Science or Nature, because Science and Nature have an editorial policy that says that they only publish revolutionary results, and so they accept 5% of the papers.

    For the typical "I ran my computer and this is what happened" I'd want to publish in Astrophysical Journal or Ap. J. Letters. They have a 70% acceptance rate.

    If I have a co-author that is from the UK, then I'd want to publish in MNRAS. If the main point of the paper is that I'm using the telescope in a weird way, then I'd want to publish in PASP.

    In any case, once I have the paper ready, it goes to the Los Alamos server.

    It helps to think of this as a conversation, because if you are citing a dozen papers and most of them are published in a journal, then that's a sign that you should publish in that journal. One reason the quality of papers on Los Alamos is surprisingly high is that most peer review is internal. If I write a paper, then there is this voice in the back of my head that can peer review it before someone else sees it.

    If you can't peer review your own papers, that's going to be a problem.

    You might consider publishing in a science education journal. Physics education journals have a lot of papers that are "here is a different way of thinking about quantum mechanics that might be useful in teaching the topic to undergraduates."
  10. Dec 6, 2011 #9


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    I was going to suggest trying the American Journal of Physics, which is mostly an education journal. They don't have a high acceptance rate, but they should be wiling to at least give you feedback on your idea if you have no one else to run it past. arXiv requires you either have an academic email address or a sponsor with one to post on the site.
  11. Dec 6, 2011 #10


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    This question comes up here rather frequently - maybe once every couple of months or so.

    When it comes from a graduate or even an undergraduate student, it's because they just don't have enough experience publishing, but have some results that they want to put out there. Sometimes they just want to know whether journal A or B is more appropriate. Usually the student needs to have a conversation with his or her supervisor to figure it out, but most often the solution really comes down to going with the journal the majority of your references come from.

    When it comes from someone who is "not connected to the academic world in any way" flags immediately come up for several reasons.

    First off, the simple fact that you don't know what journal to submit to means you haven't been doing enough reading. It draws into question whether you understand the significance of any results you've generated. Do you know what other groups are working on this problem? Do you know how your results differ from theirs?

    Further, do you know who your target audience is? In order to write an academic paper, you need to know what level of jargon is acceptable, how much background is necessary in your introduction, and what results are "obvious" given the current state of the field.
  12. Dec 6, 2011 #11
    1. post the paper on vixra if you can't on arxiv so you can cut the overly paranoid secrecy
    2. nicely ask for more constructive criticism on this forum (privately as i believe amateur research is not allowed on the forums)

    i never got this amateur paranoia thing. if i and many members of actual academia can openly share their thoughts and ideas on various topics on these forums, why can't you? most people already have their own pet projects to worry about, it's incredibly unlikely anyone would drop what they're doing to steal some random guy's idea.
  13. Dec 7, 2011 #12
    Well I've been through that phase, and although comments were made, no one gave a dozen comments about things that were wrong with it, except the: "you're not going to get the positive result anyway, because we're very confident in x already".

    Ofcourse ofcourse, I just want to get it through peerreview so I can be even more sure that scientists won't see it as rubbish.

    Those education journals do seem like a good bet, it probably has more value by its way to show a new way of thinking about it.

    Thank you, I guess that'll be my first attempt.

    Edit: Well maybe not, I found this on their website: "Manuscripts that are not acceptable include but are not limited to the following: Those announcing new theories or experimental results that should be evaluated by specialized research journals. See the Statement of Editorial Policy for clarification.". It might not point to any new science but it's still a new result.

    Well the target audience is not the people with the most expertise in the field, rather the audience consists of people with interest in and perhaps people with a general interest in science.

    1. I'm not paranoid. Why do you think that? I've sent it to several people already without worries about them stealing it. I'm not posting it here now because some journals don't seem to accept papers that aren't new, which have already been published or discussed online, and I'd like to prevent that. I don't know how strict that is, but it's better to be safe.
    2. The research is done as well, there isn't anything left to discuss except perhaps finding a better way to phrase the final conclusions so that their claims don't end up being too far from what can really be concluded, but I was hoping a peerreview would help with that.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2011
  14. Dec 7, 2011 #13
    That's not really the purpose of peer review. I can point to half a dozen papers in ApI which I think are rubbish. ApJ tends to err on publication which means that a fair amount of non-sense gets in there.

    In that case, you really don't want to publish in a research journal. Scientific research is rather gladiatorial. When you publish a research result, you shouldn't be surprised to have the top names in the field try to tear the paper to shreds, and one reason that writing papers takes so much effort is that you want to be in a good position to play intellectual full contact mix martial arts.

    That condition is unheard of in astrophysics. Every paper that gets submitted has already been uploaded to Los Alamos. The only time that people won't issue a preprint is if there is some research related embargo (i.e. you have data from a spacecraft and as a condition of the grant, you've promised to release the results to everyone at the same time) or if it's something extraordinary and you want to have independent confirmation before you look like an idiot (i.e. if you've discovered space aliens or something like that).

    There is a condition that you submit your paper to one journal at a time, and wait for a rejection before submitting to another one, but no journal that I know of in astrophysics will forbid you from circulating a preprint.

    Again I think you are misunderstanding the purpose of peer review. The purpose of peer review is not to help you write a paper.
  15. Dec 7, 2011 #14


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    True. If you have submitted a paper to Astronomy and Astrophysics, for example, the editors will encourage you to submit the paper to ArXiv as soon as your paper has passed peer-review. That is a Springer journal, with both paper and on-line subscription content, so the urging for immediate ArXiv posting seems a bit odd. They had no charges (including per-page charges) so the request for us to pre-post on-line seems a bit against "normal" publishing guidelines.

    Perhaps the editors would prefer to avoid getting scooped when they see other papers in the pipeline but relatively mundane research should be spared such drama.

    Aliens!! Wishing Evo well....
  16. Dec 7, 2011 #15

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    Twofish makes two important points.

    One is that publication is a dialog. By saying you want to publish something but you're not keeping up with the literature yourself is the equivalent of "I want to talk but I don't want to listen". As you might imagine, the reaction to this will not be very positive.

    The other is the role of peer review. Peer review is a pain in the neck for the reviewers. We all have other demands on our time, but we donate our time to this task, because it's a necessary part of the above dialog. It doesn't exist to assist people write their papers. Essentially, you're asking a stranger to donate his time to do something that you should be doing yourself. Which is why editors are paid in part to keep obvious rubbish out of the peer review process.

    Put another way, there is a tacit agreement between reviewer and reviewee that the reviewee won't submit rubbish. There's a responsibility on the part of the reviewee not to do that.
  17. Dec 7, 2011 #16


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    I don't want to be heart breaker, but by judging the OP's thread of last month (in fact less than a month) https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=548939, I highly doubt he has made serious research worth publishing.
    Why not post your paper into this forum or some parts of it so that we can say if it makes any sense?
  18. Dec 7, 2011 #17


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    Also, since it didn't seem like anyone mentioned it, there is no "math requirement" by any journal, but that's like saying can you give investors in a company a report on how well your company is doing without using any numbers and statistics. Is it even possible? Would such a report have anything meaningful to say? Should an executive be given the time of day if they have no numbers to back up what they claim?

    In any scientific field, ideas and thoughts are fun, but if you can't show your ideas and thoughts are anything that might resemble reality, then your ideas are worthless.
  19. Dec 7, 2011 #18


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    You don't have a new result. You have a null and possibly trivial result. On the whole, science does not find these interesting or publishable.
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