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I have a proof that I want to undergo peer review. I unfortunately am not affiliated with any university. How should I go about getting it reviewed and either rejected or published?


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What is the level of your paper? Is it from research? – Sigur Feb 4 '13 at 21:43
yes, its about 2 years worth of work all compressed into a 6 page proof. I tried to make it as rigorous as I could and now need professional help to push it to the next stage or have it be proven incorrect – frogeyedpeas Feb 4 '13 at 21:45
Write it in publishable form. (Usually that means in LaTeX.) Submit it to an appropriate journal. They should either accept or reject the paper. If they reject, there may be reasons given; but for amateurish papers, perhaps not. This review process could take a year. – GEdgar Feb 4 '13 at 21:46
The document is rendered using MS Word Math... Is there a straightforward way to convert that LaTeX via software etc...? And is there a way for me to be guaranteed getting reasons why my paper was rejected? – frogeyedpeas Feb 4 '13 at 21:50
Have you read How to Write Your First Paper by AMS? You might find it help in addition to the other comments. Regards – Amzoti Feb 4 '13 at 22:44
up vote 10 down vote accepted

I don't publish in pure mathematics journals (I'm a computer science researcher) but at least in my field, there is no affiliation requirement in order to submit to peer-reviewed journals.

First a quick comment: you haven't told us the subject of your proof. I don't mean to sound negative or discouraging, but if it relates to a famous long-standing conjecture (Riemann hypothesis, twin prime conjecture, etc), there is very little chance your paper will be taken seriously, as these problems have been so well studied that the odds of an amateur resolving them in 6 pages is very very low. If you do find yourself in this situation, then surely along the way to proving the famous conjecture you have also developed new theory and partial results that are interesting in their own right -- I would focus on getting some of these published first.

The first step would be for you to identify a relevant journal, and read their submission instructions. All journals have very specific instructions about how your submission should be formatted and how it should be submitted/uploaded to them. Many have LaTeX templates you'll be able to use.

Next, the editor will determine whether to send the article out for peer review, or reject it immediately. To minimize the chances of outright rejection, be sure you structure and format your paper professionally. Reading accepted papers from the journal is surely the best way to learn the standards of form, but a few quick tips:

  • Format your document using LaTeX. If you don't know LaTeX, learning it and converting your paper to it is well worth the few weeks' investment. I do not recommend submitting a paper written in MS Equation Editor, even if the journal allows it, as it will make an unprofessional first impression.
  • Be sure your paper has an appropriate abstract, outlining in ~100 words what you prove and how it fits into the existing body of work.
  • Throughout the paper, and in the introduction in particular, be sure you've appropriately acknowledged (and cited) all relevant existing work. Ignorance of existing published partial or related results is one of the brightest red flags of crankery, so you want to leave the editor with no doubts about whether you have done your homework.

If your submission looks and smells like a professional paper, it will be submitted for peer review. The usefulness of those reviews is always uncertain, but with any luck you will get good feedback on how to improve your paper, even in the unfortunate even that the reviewers recommend rejection.

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Your bullet points are very true! – Olivier Bégassat Feb 4 '13 at 22:36
Should I spend extensive time making sure everything I derived hasn't been done before? Say a lemma that I prove from scratch has already been done by someone else that I don't know about? Do they need to be found and then cited as well? – frogeyedpeas Feb 5 '13 at 20:06
I have cited materials for all equations etc... that I didn't derive myself in the paper – frogeyedpeas Feb 5 '13 at 20:07

Ultimately, you have to write a complete paper around your proof and submit it to a journal. Hopefully, you already have an idea which journals might be appropriate for your paper.

There are probably many means to get feedback before, but these can't replace actually writing and submitting the paper. A tricky part might be to find and discuss related work (this is expected as part of the introduction of a paper), especially if you don't have access to anything equivalent to a university library. However, you don't necessarily have to be affiliated with an university to get access to its library (or the library of its mathematical institute).

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So the proof alone isn't satisfactory material for a Journal? Would they actually care for me to acknowledge what intuitions led to what conclusions? – frogeyedpeas Feb 5 '13 at 20:08
AS opposed to purely deductive points – frogeyedpeas Feb 5 '13 at 20:08
@frogeyedpeas Let's assume your paper will have the following parts: abstract, introduction, background material, main result, and conclusion. In your case, the proof is the main result. The conclusion only repeats the main points from the abstract (and the introduction). The background material is the "trivial" stuff which is required for understanding your proof. In the introduction, you have to motivate why you study the problem, and how your approach relates to previous work on related problems. Apart from that you should try to make your paper as "readable" as possible. – Thomas Klimpel Feb 5 '13 at 23:03

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