I am currently working on an applied mathematics paper (with my supervisor, I am a student) that is long overdue: supposed to take 4-5 months but I have been working on it for 6.5 months.

I was wondering if this project is beginning to become a disaster or if I am being exceptionally slow or unproductive.

So, how long does it take, generally, to write a math or applied math paper?


closed as not constructive by Asaf Karagila, user23452, Ayman Hourieh, draks ..., JSchlather Mar 13 '13 at 20:54

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    $\begingroup$ Usually, a finite number of hours (some exceptions might be possible). $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mar 13 '13 at 20:11
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think it is possible to answer this question. Some papers take days to write, some take years. $\endgroup$ – the L Mar 13 '13 at 20:11
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    $\begingroup$ I am not sure anyone can give a definitive answer. I know people who produced quality work in a few months, while others could take up to years. I also think when you first start writing papers, it is long and arduous, but the more you do it, the better you get at it. You should ask yourself some questions however. Are you spending the right amount of time on it, what is stopping you from finishing it, is you main thesis clear, concise and doable, do you need help, do you need to talk to your instructor ... Basically, what is stopping you. Sorry for the rant and good luck! $\endgroup$ – Amzoti Mar 13 '13 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ Applied mathematics in what sense? Can you be a bit more specific? Also, you being a student makes it more difficult, since you have other things to worry about. $\endgroup$ – noobProgrammer Mar 13 '13 at 20:17
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    $\begingroup$ "If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research." - Einstein $\endgroup$ – JavaMan Mar 13 '13 at 20:28

If you already have the results and you're just writing it up then it should take no more than two weeks. If you intend to do some work that is worthy of publication and then put it into a paper then, from my personal experience, you can't ever say "I'm going to write a paper in the next $n$ months"; it just doesn't work that way.

The fastest I've ever written a paper, from scratch to (successful) submission, is four weeks. I had an idea during a research visit and ran with it. By the time the month was up I'd got as far as I was going with it and was very happy with my results. I wrote it up as I went and submitted it. It was accepted outright.

There are some ideas that I've been struggling with since I was a PhD student, which is back in 2004. I still haven't been able to get anywhere with them and I doubt that I ever will. I keep chipping away, but I just don't have the technical knowledge or the vision to make a breakthrough that is a sufficient contribution to knowledge to warrant publication.

In between that, I have had some nice work that I thought was worth publishing. It took me a long time to write it up. When I finally submitted it, it was accepted subject to revision. I spent a long time trying to iron out the problems that the referee had found and that I had overlooked. It took me the best part of two years to get the article accepted.

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    $\begingroup$ +1. I would say that 2 pages a day is a reasonable pace (there are those who can write 4 or even more, but that's just madness). So, when you have a really, really, really long appendix (or maybe it is a technical report) then with $>28$ pages two weeks might be a bit short ;-) Although I cannot agree more with « "I'm going to write a paper in the next $n$ months"; it just doesn't work that way.» $\endgroup$ – dtldarek Mar 13 '13 at 21:52
  • $\begingroup$ Great answer. This is the kind of response (brief description of personal experiences) I was looking for. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – Legendre Mar 14 '13 at 14:44

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