How to Write a Math Research Paper
Researchers read journal publications when they are looking for new ideas about the research that they are conducting. Since journal articles communicate new ideas in a particular field, they must be clear, concise, and written as simply as possible. Even if your ideas or research are ground-breaking, the importance and validity of your work can go unnoticed if you do not communicate those ideas clearly. The best scientific or mathematical writing provides clear meaning in the fewest words.
Evaluate Other Journal Articles
Before you consider submitting your paper to a journal, research as many journal articles in your field as possible. Look at the content and structure of each paper, and then pick a few papers to use as a model. Write down the answers to the following questions while studying these papers:
1) How many pages is each article?
2) What sections do each article include?
3) How long is each section?
4) How many tables and figures are in each paper?
5) Do you want the same section headings in your journal article?
After you have examined several journal articles, make sure that you understand the formatting, section, and bibliography requirements for the journal that you will be submitting your article to. The next step is to create a plan or outline of what your paper will entail.
Create a Plan
After reviewing several articles, the next step in writing a math research paper is to create a plan. Now that you have reviewed several journal articles related to the topic that you would like to write about, take a few minutes to answer the following questions:
1) Why do you want to write the journal article?
2) How many pages will your article have?
3) What sections will your article have?
4) What will the title be?
5) Will there be any co-authors?
A few common reasons why individuals want to write a journal article is to (1) build their resume, (2) meet the requirements of a masters or doctorate program, (3) become known or have an impact in a particular field, (4) or make a difference in a particular area of research. The length of an research article usually ranges from 5 – 20 pages. There is not a steadfast rule for the number of pages to submit to most journals. When considering the title of your journal article, make sure that it is more specific than most papers that you have written previously. Most journal titles are a very precise and unambiguous statement of the research that the article will contain.
The largest roadblock in writing a journal article is “starting” due to fear of criticism. Many high-achieving students are not used to getting criticized; they are only used to receiving praise. No matter how talented and brilliant that you are, criticism is more common than praise in both academia and industry. Excelling in any field will cause you to push boundaries and often result in failure. Therefore, it is important not to fear criticism; criticism that you receive will only help you.
It does not matter how good or bad your writing is — it is important to just start writing. Start with the section that you find easiest, and draft the sections in an order that makes the most sense to you. Individuals that have a difficult time starting to write something are often trying to obtain perfection from the beginning or are trying to write the paper sequentially.
Revise Your Writing
It is common to revise your writing 5 – 10 times before it is in good shape. Good writing is about good revising. Revise your work as many times as necessary to make sure that all of the points are clearly stated, and your work can easily be read and understood. Ask yourself the following questions when you are revising your research paper:
1) Does the text include all relevant information?
2) Is there additional information that needs to be included to make the arguments more comprehensive?
3) Is the text clear and concise?
4) Have you adequately reviewed previous work conducted in this field?
5) Are all of the figures and tables labeled properly?
6) Have you followed the instructions for that particular journal?
Finishing Your Paper
After you have finished writing your paper, give your paper to an interested friend, teacher, or parent to review. The reviewer will preferably be able to understand the content, and provide valuable feedback to make sure that you have not missed anything from a technical, mathematical, or grammatical point of view. One last important point to mention is that no paper is perfect. If you have reviewed your paper several times, and it seems to be in a finished state, then you have finished your paper! Congratulate yourself on finishing the research paper! The final step is to submit your paper to the journal for review.
Feedback on your submission
After you have submitted your journal article, you will obtain feedback on your submission. It is common for journals to ask for revisions prior to accepting the paper. When you resubmit your article, make sure that you submit a separate document explaining how the reviewer’s feedback was addressed. Most feedback will improve your paper and your journal writing. If you receive an acceptance, or an acceptance upon revision, celebrate that your paper was accepted!