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Best Way To Publish an "Indie" Research Paper? 279 279

alexmipego writes "I'm a developer, and a few months ago while working on a common geodesic problem (distance between two GPS points) I started to research a new algorithm that greatly improves the performance over existing algorithms. After relearning a lot of math I'm now fairly close to the final algorithm, after which I'll run extensive benchmarks comparing my algorithm with the most commonly used ones. After spending so much time on this, and if the final results are positive, I feel that simply posting this type of work on a blog might not be the best option, so I'm looking into something more formal, like a research paper. I've no experience on those, have not even read a complete one, so my first question is what resources do you recommend to learn how to write one? And even after I write it, I can't expect to be published by Science or other high-profile publications. So where should I send it to make it known by people in the respective fields and be taken seriously?"
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Best Way To Publish an "Indie" Research Paper?

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  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:18PM (#32681156)
    What kind of distance are you talking about? Straight line distance (straight through the earth)? Distance on a great circle? In that case, just assuming some idealised shape of the earth or actual shape?
  • Re:Wait a sec (Score:4, Interesting)

    by langelgjm (860756) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:23PM (#32681258) Journal

    I've never heard of a paper presentation at a conference being considered as previous publication, but I'm not in the same field. Lots and lots of papers that are published start out by being presented at conferences, and then the authors rework them after that. Now if the conference is publishing proceedings, that's a different story.

    But as some other commenters are suggesting, your best bet would likely be to find a professor who works in this area and maybe co-write a paper with them. You can provide the substance, but they can connect it with what's going on in the field, references to appropriate literature, etc. They'll also be up to speed with what the best publishing venue will be. No, it won't be Science, but there are plenty of other well-regarded journals as well as specialty journals that might accept it.

  • (a) an idea of what journals publish on that subject and hence what researchers in that area read, (b) examples of published articles in that field to use as a stylistic template and (c) some idea of which academics are active in the area, which could be useful if you'd like to either recommend reviewers

    This is really good advice as well. I would like to add one more thing to that list about researching your field before publishing. I used to troll the Computer Vision papers when I had more time on my hands in college. One annoying thing I found was that people would talk about the same concepts and methods but would call them their own little nickname. It can get annoying when I read one paper about Kernel Machines and then another about Support Vector Machines. The least you can do is put all the aliases you found at the beginning of your paper to get that out of the way. When sections tie into related work it creates a more coherent field for readers and -- at least by myself -- is much appreciated. Some people will opine that this is fluff and unnecessary and that you should stick to your message but I personally think it lends credence to your work. It also shows the reader that even though you're not tied to a big bucks research institution, you've done due diligence and you should be taken seriously instead of some confused quack.

    Of course, research papers are not always page turners and the above is asking you to go through a lot of technical crap that, while ameliorating, is not everyone's idea of a fun weekend. Simply put, communication amounts to some work here. And it's that communication which furthers almost all scientific fields -- usually more than any single individual could.* If you're up to the challenge and want to see this thing through, this is heavily recommended. When all is said and done, you might find you're actually a part of the community.

    * Yes, there are some people like Einstein that probably could have built a field by themselves but most of us are collaborators like Paul Erdos. No wonder the Chinese scholars said that losing Google groups and Google scholar would set back science in China.

  • Re:OK, here it is (Score:3, Interesting)

    by darkstar949 (697933) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:36PM (#32681456)
    3. Someone at another company reads your paper and offers you a job.

    4. Profit!
  • by alexmipego (903944) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:31PM (#32682218) Homepage

    Thanks all for all the nice comments so far ;) The list is growing faster than I can keep up with but here are some remarks I would like to add:

    I do not wish to patent it and I plan on making sure there will be material enough to be considered prior art in case of patent trolling. I'm also a open source contributor and I'm sure if I needed I could forward them the work so they could protect it (e.g. add it to their defensive patent poll). All in all, I'm not looking for profit, yet a job would be welcome lol

    As for the new algorithm I think was I was maybe a bit too vague on the story. So, to put it simple and short, afaik there are 3 major formulas used nowadays: great circle distance, haversine and vincenty's. In order, they each offer more accuracy than the previous at the expense of more computation power needed for the calculations. While I didn't even try to replace Vincenty's formula yet (but it might be possible) my solution improves on the others because they all require a lot of trigonometry functions (cos, sin, etc..). On the simplest of those, you have to call 6 trig functions, while with my method I only need 1 (so far) to achieve the same end result as the haversine's formula.

    I'm not sure if such formula and the methods needed to make this work are even patentable anyway.

  • (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 24, 2010 @05:25PM (#32683924)

    Or if it's just a formula, put it on a blog with your name on it, and then slip it into an appropriate Wikipedia article, with references pointing to the blog.

    Yeah, I know, Wikipedia is not for original research. However, I did NOT realize that, when I did something very similar to this quite a few years back. I posted a few paragraphs into a Wikipedia page, naming my formula with my name. And now I am quoted all over the web for some stupid formula I created. It's even taught in seminars in the Americas and in Asia.

  • by Angst Badger (8636) on Friday June 25, 2010 @02:14AM (#32687540)

    While I didn't even try to replace Vincenty's formula yet (but it might be possible) my solution improves on the others because they all require a lot of trigonometry functions (cos, sin, etc..). On the simplest of those, you have to call 6 trig functions, while with my method I only need 1 (so far) to achieve the same end result as the haversine's formula.

    Careful there. Some time ago, I came up with a series of equations for calculating various properties of star polygons. I thought I was very clever for having done so because, unlike numerous esteemed authors on the subject, I managed to do it without any trigonometry.

    Or so I thought.

    Fortunately, in the process of brushing up on trig to check my results, I (re)discovered that trigonometric functions are just shorthand for relationships (i.e., ratios) between the sides and angles of triangles. My "trig-free" equations didn't dispense with trigonometric functions, they just dispensed with the shorthand.

    On one hand, it's kind of cool to rediscover stuff like this as a confirmation that you are on the right track. On the other hand, it's embarrassing when what you have rediscovered is, in fact, something you should already have known if you had paid a little more attention in high school math. If I were you, I'd look up the definitions of the trigonometric functions -- Wikipedia will do -- and see if you haven't simply duplicated them. If you have, then lesson learned. If not, and you actually have discovered something new, more power to you!

Beware the new TTY code!