Thread: Need a paper!
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Old 2005-12-14, 21:25   #8
xilman's Avatar
May 2003
Down not across

1040010 Posts

Originally Posted by Citrix
My library has a hard copy of the journal, so I need to go there and get a copy. In reality I need the citation for a paper I am trying to write. I have never written a paper before, so I am not sure on how to write it.

Basically a new algorithm to solve discrete log problems in some special cases.(Algorithm is not in P, sorry to get your hopes up). Since the algorithm is not related to any methods that exists in journals so far, I am not sure if I should cite anything or not?

How do you choose what to cite?

General advice I, and probably countless others, have found useful is the following. It is largely subject independent, so is as applicable to papers in mathematics as it is to, say, meterorology or music.

First, write down your ideas in reasonably clear language. Use subject-dependent jargon/equations/etc where it is both appropriate and you know what it means. Bullshitting will be found out immediately, so don't even try. If you know of relevant references, cite them. Do not include irrelevant references! Background reading of texts in the same general area will usually point you to papers of direct relevance or to references in their citations that are relevant. It should also be obvious that using search engines, some of which are specific to your field of study, is a productive way of discovering relevant references.

Second, try to find someone who will discuss your proto-paper with you. Don't be afraid to ask, politely, but don't be either surprised or aggrieved if they turn you down. Most people really are busy with other things.

Third: pay attention to what the colleague(s) say. If they find what they think are flaws, they are probably correct, but not invariably so. Examine any reported criticisms dispassionately and very carefully. Only after concentrated thought and analysis is it wise to conclude that your colleague has misunderstood your correct argument. If after that you're still convinced that you are right, address the criticisms with further clear and logical arguments.

Only after going through these three stages would I recommend that you start to massage your message into the stylised form which the targeted publications appear to require. Needless to say, you should read a number of papers from the publications in question --- whether or not the subject matter is particularly relevant to you --- to get a feel for what's customary.

Good luck. The first paper is almost always the hardest to write.

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