I'm a mathematics (undergraduate) student, and as the title claims, I would like to get into reading papers. I don't know how to get into them. I need some advice about sources, magazines, forums, etc.

I thought some of you could had been in my spot when you were in college.


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  • $\begingroup$ You mean like, how to start writing papers? Or where to get papers of other people? $\endgroup$ – SK19 Apr 26 at 9:09
  • $\begingroup$ Oh sorry, I will change the post now, I want to start reading papers (ones I can understand, part of it at least). Obv i want to write them too, but it is a little bit early to start writing papers, isn't it? $\endgroup$ – Ignacio Correcher Sánchez Apr 26 at 9:12
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    $\begingroup$ Some mathematicians (your professors for instance) sometimes have notes or expository articles about various subjects. These are not always research paper per say but I found them extremely useful to know what is going on in some research fields. For instance Paul Garrett has some nice things: www-users.math.umn.edu/~garrett (might be a bit too advanced though). $\endgroup$ – Thibaut Dumont Apr 26 at 11:22

Well, it basically relies on your field of interest. For different fields there are different journals in which papers concerning that topic are published. Then again, many different journals are published by the same publisher, see for example Elsevier. Wikipedia has a list of journals.

Usually, unless they are open access or your university has a contract with the publisher, you need to pay money to read a paper or journal. But your local math library probably has a lot of old (and new) journal articles to read from. arxiv.org should also be mentioned, as perhaps the most well known source for open access prepapers as well as Google Scholar which can help you to find a specific paper given the title and/or author. But also note that the quality of journals differ, going down to journals which will publish anything for money (see also).

Reading new papers nowadays is challenging anyway, because they are basically the frontier of science and therefore often really specialized. For example, I can hardly make sense of papers about vector bundles because I didn't really ever had anything to do with them and so hardly know what they are anyway. If you want to start with a topic, it is usually more advisable to read a structured book about it, which usually contains a lot of references to papers, if you want to delve into it.

On another note, it can be very educational to read the original papers of great mathematicans. For example, there is the Euler Archive but there exist paper collections of almost all great mathematicians.

  • $\begingroup$ Wow this was REALLY helpful. Thank you so much, I will take a look to the Euler Archive and arxiv. But I definitely agree that reading a book will be more optimal, but papers have such a "romanticism" around them that I wanted to take a look. $\endgroup$ – Ignacio Correcher Sánchez Apr 26 at 9:56
  • $\begingroup$ @IgnacioCorrecherSánchez You know, if you are completely satisfied with my answer, you can "accept" it by clicking on the checkmark right under the points. This can only be done for one answer per question though. Welcome to Math.StackExchange :D $\endgroup$ – SK19 Apr 26 at 10:36

One type of journals with papers students can understand are those that are intended for a broader audience than researchers, often including educators of mathematics. These papers are usually more expository (the word 'expository' itself is also a good term to search for) than the 'cutting edge' work.

For example, I can certainly recommend "Nieuw archief voor de wiskunde" to Dutch students. (some articles are in English, but most non-technical articles are only in Dutch.) I'm not aware of any such publication in Spanish, but its likely there is one (and probably easier to find for someone who can speak that language.)


I suppose you have at least a vague idea about topics you are interested. Let's say "non-Riemann topology" or "elliptic PDE stability" (I do not even know if they are research topics, I am just packing math terms altogether out of my ignorance)

How I would do it then, if I were xx years younger:

  • search in my favorite Internet search engine for a recording of seminar/talk/presentation on a topic I am interested. Example searching for "topology seminar youtube" gives some results, among them the official youtube channel of a French institution https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFqg88K7NWY2xjWB6CeRyAw
  • after watching one/two interesting seminars, I would start from the referenced papers there presented. If I found nothing interesting, I would start looking into the most recent awarded persons at Mathematics Symposium: there is a good chance that the last paper with the awarded person as first-author is a nice review of his personal and group contributions to the subject.

Doing all these research from your university library increases the chances of having meaningful results and possibly accessing the pdf of the papers.

In my times, there was not so much available online, so newsletters and mailing lists were very useful, in getting into the world of research professionals. An example relevant to you is probably the page of the european mathematics society. Check their newsletter https://www.ems-ph.org/journals/journal.php?jrn=news and for the remote future, you may be interested in their job page https://euro-math-soc.eu/jobs

Good luck!


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