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

Posted by timothy
from the don-your-suit-of-thick-skin dept.
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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:03PM (#32680914)

    You can either submit it to a conference (look on google for them) or to a journal (also google them). They usually have an electronic form to upload your paper and after that it's simply wether the reviewers think it's worthwhile to publish. There really isn't anything complicated in publishing a paper other than having a good paper.

    • Wait a sec (Score:3, Informative)

      by wonkavader (605434)

      I'm not sure about this -- it's been a long time since I was in academia, but don't the most prestigious journals (and most journals, really) have as one of their criteria that the paper not have been published elsewhere, and wouldn't a conference presentation count as such?

      Someone who knows this stuff for sure, please answer on this -- what constitutes a previous exposure/publishing such that a prestigious journal won't publish the paper?

      Or are those old rules which people no longer follow?

      • 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.

        • Re:Wait a sec (Score:5, Informative)

          by Matrix14 (135171) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:43PM (#32681550)

          If he is publishing in computer science, a conference counts as a publication exactly as much as a journal does. CS conferences are peer reviewed and the top tier ones are as prestigious as top tier journals in other fields. In CS, journals are used more as a record of a large body of work than as a venue for first publication.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by skelterjohn (1389343)

            Right.

            Also journal papers are usually much longer than conference papers. Conference papers are often limited to 8-10 pages, while journal papers typically have no hard restriction, and are often 40 pages long.

            It is very common to submit a "journal version" of a previous conference paper.

      • Re:Wait a sec (Score:5, Informative)

        by infalliable (1239578) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:28PM (#32681334)

        You can't publish it verbatim from a conference to a journal, but there are quite a few people who publish essentially the same thing in a conference and a journal. You just have to rewrite it with a different spin or maybe a little more work/discussion/etc. Say in one, you focus on the accuracy of your model/method and the other focuses on speed vs. other methods.

      • Re:Wait a sec (Score:5, Informative)

        by omris (1211900) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:33PM (#32681410)

        I'm coming from the medical science field, but generally at a conference you are presenting an abstract, which is not the same as the full manuscript that you're sending to a journal. That being said, sometimes you need to just tell the journal that an abstract of the work was presented at such and such conference. I've never heard of it being turned down because of that.

        Other than that, finding the right journal is usually the hard part. Read up on impact ratings (how "prestigious" a publication is, if you will) and read what else is getting published in there. Often there are multiple fields where the work might be relevant (my work applies to neurosurgical, spinal, and pain related publications for example).

        Once you have the journal, they give very explicit instructions on how they want it presented. Follow them exactly, and you're 9/10ths of the way there.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I'm coming from the medical science field, but generally at a conference you are presenting an abstract, which is not the same as the full manuscript that you're sending to a journal.

          Computer science has a culture where conference publications are full-length, peer reviewed manuscripts that're considered "equivalent" to journal publications in other fields.

          To answer the grandparent's question: in CS, it's considered self plagiarism to submit to multiple conferences/journals simultaneously, but it's fine to publish an expanded version of a conference publication in a journal later. The rules for submitting expanded conference papers vary from journal to journal; you typically need to ac

      • by toastar (573882)

        The Journals I read make you disclose whether it's published else where such as conferences and other Journals, But it doesn't black ball your paper. It's pretty common for conference only papers to be accepted even.

    • Another important difference between journals and conferences is that conferences usually require that you physically travel there and present your paper. This means you have to pay out of pocket for the trip and conference registration, which can be a hefty $500-$1k for a non-student. So pay attention where it's held :)

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:03PM (#32680916) Journal

    I'm a developer ... I'm looking into something more formal like a research paper.

    LaTeX. Here's a template (you wanted article.ltx) [dsl.org]. Some distributions of LaTeX come with templates as well. Here's a quick guide (PDF) [cc.ca.us].

    I've no experience on those, not even read a complete one, so my first question is what resources do you recommend to learn how to write one?

    The template will make you get the basics right [statpac.com]. The most basic I've seen are Title, Abstract, Sections, Conclusion, References. It's easy (I taught myself in college) and the production value of LaTeX gives you an instant artificially inflated level of credibility [mit.edu].

    And even after I write it I can't expect to be published by Science or other high-profile publications.

    Why the hell not? Just do it up and see what happens [submit2science.org]!

    So where should I send it to make it known by people on the respective fields and be taken seriously?

    Sounds like you should do some research on arxiv [arxiv.org], a prepublication center where you can find some of the best stuff as well as absolute drivel. I would need to hear more about your method to ensure it's indeed an algorithm worthy of publication but I guess you would put that [arxiv.org] in Data Structures and Algorithms [arxiv.org]? But why stop there? Why don't you put it on arxiv and blog about it? Why don't you send out e-mails with the arxiv link to open source projects and commercial entities suggesting the use of your algorithm? I'd imagine the USGS [usgs.gov] would be interested in hearing from you. Sure that's all very wishful thinking but if you've got what you say you've got, why not? At the very least you'll learn why your idea isn't good enough to catch eyeballs.

    I will caveat all this with the brutish reality of capital and give you a very unpopular option. Software algorithms are currently considered intellectual property by the United States government and several other countries. You could apply for a patent and then attempt to license your algorithm to companies like ESRI and Google or the USGS. You're on your own if this is what you're aiming for.

    • by john83 (923470) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:16PM (#32681132)

      The above amounts to good advice, but I have one thing to add. If you're still interested in publishing in an academic journal, use something like Google Scholar to find recent articles about algorithms like yours. That will give you (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 (as many journals ask you to when submitting) and possibly contact one of them for advise. (Though if the advise is that your idea is rubbish, ignore them - they may be right or they may just be dismissing you without giving your idea due consideration, or have another angle).

      Finally, if you'd like some help from a postdoc in a completely different field, send me a message, and I'll proof read whatever you've got and advise you on dealing with reviewers and the like.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by eldavojohn (898314) *

        (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 al

        • 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.

          However, a research paper, especially on a well-known problem, will nearly always discuss the previous state of the art and related work. So you need to read some papers anyways. This can be hard work. Typically, older papers will use simpler and more varied language, and also present more basic ideas. As the field develo

    • by forand (530402) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:47PM (#32681622) Homepage
      If you want to publish in a high profile journal do not shoot yourself in the foot by posting it to any abstract service before submitting and being published in said journal. Generally speaking the high impact journals want their journal to be the breaking news source not arxiv nor do they want old news.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mathfeel (937008)

        It depends on the journal you are submitting to. Better research what each journal/publisher wants regarding this point. Articles submitted to APS (I am a physics phD) usually shows up on arxiv as soon as they are submitted, and an doi link is added when the paper is accepted and published. Nature, on the other hand, don't want the article to show up before hand.

        To original poster: you said you have not read any existing research paper. Well, you are expected to do an extensive (if not exhaustive) literatu

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tobiah (308208)

      I'm a developer ... I'm looking into something more formal like a research paper.

      LaTeX. Here's a template (you wanted article.ltx) [dsl.org]. Some distributions of LaTeX come with templates as well. Here's a quick guide (PDF) [cc.ca.us].

      LyX [lyx.org] is the best TeX document processor I've used. This is the 21st century, no need to program and compile your technical documents from the command line using vi and multiple compile steps.

    • by astar (203020)

      no real knowledge, but I was a member of acm for 40 years and I would poke around there they have a lot of sigs, with publications and conferences and I would expect there are local knowledgable people that you can actually meet face to face. Also, the format stuff for their big journal is all on the web.

      A little plug for acm. they have some real nice online library stuff if you are a member. Perhaps most of the people on slashdot are eligible for membership. they certainly have some prestige For in

  • arXiv [arxiv.org]
    • by Kijori (897770)

      arXiv is really a repository rather than a journal. If the submitter wants something to put on his/her CV, a traditional peer-reviewed journal is the way to go.

  • by Intron (870560) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:05PM (#32680948)
    Your best bet to get it published is:
    • patent it
    • get Garmin and TomTom into a bidding war
    • Profit!
    • Buy Science
    • Force them to publish your paper
    • Stop bastardizing the process. Just stop. The Gnomes had no steps after "Profit".

      It was a 3 step process, never 4 never 5.

      1. Action
      2. ???
      3. Profit

      The gnomes were wise to give us 3 steps and 3 steps only, heretic.

    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      I don't get it, shouldn't there be another step before "Profit!"?

    • Patents might count more than publications for non-academics, hell even for academics. If your employer would own the patent, fine well make them pay the lawyers, and get the resume line for yourself. Yes, software patents are wrong, and we'll all win if they're eliminated one day, but the resume line still counts.

      In fact, academia is wide open if your invention is really that brilliant, but most likely you're simply not nearly as clever as you imagine. So fine you'll never see science, nature, etc. bu

  • by Tekfactory (937086) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:05PM (#32680964) Homepage

    You've taken out the patent already right?

    • by Nadaka (224565)

      As much as I believe software/math patents to be irredeemably evil and hope regularly that they are abolished, that may be a good idea unless the company you work for has a "We own all your patents" clause.

    • by TiggertheMad (556308) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:37PM (#32681468) Homepage Journal
      if this is really just a math algorithm, you can't really patent it. If it is a software 'process', then you are good. Hire an attorney and get some pro advice before you go any further.

      Also, you might do some research before submission to see if you haven't just discovered something that people have know about for the last 200 years, but you haven't talked to the right math professor to know about.
      • by SirGarlon (845873)

        Also, you might do some research before submission to see if you haven't just discovered something that people have know about for the last 200 years, but you haven't talked to the right math professor to know about.

        Or you could just submit your patent application in the U.S., so even if people have known about it for 200 years, the patent examiners won't notice. ;-)

      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        Publishing the paper establishes you as the initial inventor, and can help fend off "prior art" questions. As long as you apply for the patent (assuming it's patentable) right after you publish, you're good.

  • by pak9rabid (1011935) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:06PM (#32680972)
    I know I'm going to catch some hell for this, but if you have the money to do it why not look into patenting it if it's really something that's groundbreaking?
    • by Nick Fel (1320709) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:13PM (#32681078)
      I agree with you, but it sure is funny to see how quickly the Slashdot community embraces patents when the "imaginary property" belongs to one of us.
      • Registering a patent does not imply how you will license it. You can patent an invention and then grant everyone a non-exclusive right to use it.

        It is also the safest, most convenient way to keep a patent troll from stealing it - if the troll applies for a patent and your invention is not on file, they might get it and challenging a patent is expensive litigation. Having patented it first should prevent that sort of thing.

        (Not a lawyer, but have gleaned legal knowledge by reading a lot of Slashdot comments

        • by Abcd1234 (188840)

          Registering a patent does not imply how you will license it. You can patent an invention and then grant everyone a non-exclusive right to use it.

          It is also the safest, most convenient way to keep a patent troll from stealing it...

          If either of those is your goal, just publish it in a "notable" source (eg, an industry journal, etc). Public disclosure is sufficient to ensure the invention is never patented by someone else.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by epiphani (254981)

        As RIM famously discovered, the patent system may be broken, but you can get really seriously screwed if you don't play the game right now.

    • by bieber (998013) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:16PM (#32681130)
      Perhaps because he/she recognizes the idiocy of software patents, and cares more about doing what's right than their own bank account? I know it's a novel concept, but some people do live for more than just money...
      • by TheKidWho (705796) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:18PM (#32681158)

        That's pretty silly, so someone else is simply going to profit off of his hard work rather than himself.

        If that's what floats your boat.

        • 1) File for a patent
          2) Get the idea stolen by $LARGE_CORP
          3) Sue $LARGE_CORP
          4) Get dragged in court for years
          5) ???
          6) Drop the suit due to lack of funds

          • by TheKidWho (705796)

            As opposed to:

            1) Don't file for a patent
            2) Get the idea stolen by $LARGE_CORP
            3) Try to sue $LARGE_CORP
            4) Get dragged in court for years
            5) ???
            6) Drop the suit due to lack of patent

            • The parent's Step 1 costs a bunch of time and money up front. Yours is probably quicker and more cost effective....
        • by smartr (1035324)
          He's got a job - does he need more money for his findings? By sharing his good work, others will benefit freely from it. There is also reward in merit. Ever hear anyone talk about the Apache Way? http://theapacheway.com/ [theapacheway.com]
        • by vadim_t (324782)

          There's prior art. If made public enough, it should ensure nobody else can patent it.

          Alternatively, perhaps it could be possible to patent it, then dedicate it.

      • by mea37 (1201159)

        If we take as a premise that the material in qustion can be patented - which is not the same as if it should be patented, or even if it should be possible to patent it:

        Deciding on principle not to file for a patent is ok, but either way you need a strategy to make sure someone else doesn't end up owning the patent. Even if you've not told anyone else about your work, you still might be racing the clock (as someone else could be doing similar work and reaching similar conclusions).

        Assuming the submitter is

      • Perhaps because he/she recognizes the idiocy of software patents, and cares more about doing what's right than their own bank account? I know it's a novel concept, but some people do live for more than just money...

        Wow, spoken like a true douche.

        If it really is something worthwhile, then somebody else will come along and patent it instead (probably a big business). I hate software patents as much as the next guy, but if they must exist, I'd rather see them in the hands of the legitimate inventor (who in this case happens to be a talented individual), and not some patent troll company.

    • by vadim_t (324782)

      Great way to make sure nobody uses it until it expires.

      Why would anybody license this, given that GPS routing already works perfectly fine? My ancient GPS takes maybe 5 seconds to calculate a route.

      Though, I'm opposed to patents on this sort of thing in the first place, and have serious doubts that patents should exist at all anymore, so read the comment with that in mind.

  • conference paper (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:07PM (#32680990)

    Submit it to a relevant conference for publication; the peer review process for conferences is less intimidating than journals. You'll likely have to pay to attend & give a brief talk, but it helps get your foot in the door.

    Then if/when you want to do a follow-up, you can reference the conference proceedings, which gives you more credentials to submit the follow-up article to a journal.

  • by jfb2252 (1172123) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:08PM (#32681004)

    http://standards.ieee.org/guides/style/ [ieee.org] is the page with the IEEE style guides.

    http://standards.ieee.org/guides/style/2009_Style_Manual.pdf [ieee.org] is the guide itself.

    If your paper agrees with this it shouldn't be too hard to change it later to fit into the particular style requirement of the final journal.

    You can also go to http://arxiv.org/ [arxiv.org] and read some of the papers in the Math or Computing Science sections closest to your topic to see the styles in the field.

  • academic skepticism (Score:5, Informative)

    by vossman77 (300689) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:13PM (#32681066) Homepage

    I would say your best bet would be to contact your favorite comp. sci. college professor and ask him to sponsor your paper, before submission. First, it is good to publish with other people and second it more likely to be reviewed and get published. I am a biologist, but my understanding is that computer science publications are mainly submissions to large conferences. So, you may want to submit your paper to a conference.

    No offense, but your paper won't get into science unless to at least 10-fold improvement or something really earth shattering. My guess is that most algorithms would go to a specific journal like the Journal of GPS Algorithms.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:22PM (#32681208) Homepage

      Said professor also has navigated precisely the same waters you're asking complete strangers for advice on, and presumably is somebody you trust. They will likely appreciate your work, teach you how to turn it into proper research, and critique it so you fix any glaring flaws.

      Oh, and be prepared for that professor, or the conference or journal you submit to, to promptly inform you that your idea is nothing new and that very smart people have either worked out this idea before you or have demonstrated conclusively why it doesn't work.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by blind biker (1066130)

        Yeah, well, be as well prepared for editors of respected journals, even editors with vast academic background, to reject your paper before even passing it to peer review, for the silliest reasons. Some of the most innovative, creative papers have been rejected before peer review. Papers with some of the dumbest, most glaring mistakes, have been accepted after peer review, by respected journals.

        IOW: it's actually a lottery. I've read a book on how to get your paper published. On the cover of that book there

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:01PM (#32681804)

          On the cover of that book there is an illustration of two dies. Now what does that tell you?

          That you don't know the proper plural of die?

        • Papers with some of the dumbest, most glaring mistakes......two dies...

          "Dies" is a verb, meaning "to cease to live". A die is a single polyhedron with some numbering scheme designed to make semi-random numerical results when rolled/thrown/dropped. Dice are more than one die.

          I couldn't parse that for a few seconds....

          • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

            Heh, me either, however you aren't completely correct.

            A "die" is also a form with a pattern for things like cutouts in manufacturing or the ink-transfer to paper in printing. In that case, the plural is "dies", as in more than one die.

            However, the marked polyhedron has the plural form "dice".

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            Actually, a "die" can also be a metal form of some sort used in machining, and the plural of that is "dies". The literal reading would therefore be two shaped pieces of metal. Likely variations would be "two dice" or "two deaths".

        • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

          IOW: it's actually a lottery. I've read a book on how to get your paper published. On the cover of that book there is an illustration of two dies. Now what does that tell you?

          That either you don't know how to spell "dice", or something really, really messed up is going on in that book.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cetialphav (246516)

      This is my sentiment exactly. The hard part, if you are not part of the academic community, is to know if there are any nearby professors who are expert in your area. Professors always want to get their names on papers so they are more than happy to assist you. Even if you talk to someone whose research interest isn't what you are working on, they likely know who the right people to talk to are.

      Another advantage to dealing with a professor is that they may have additional resources that can be brought to

    • A professor could also add a lot of improvements on your writing, like changing the structure, pointing about missing parts, checking references. But the more likely outcome is that after you get to a professor, he answers "hey, like this paper somebody already published here?", what will save you a lot of time if it really is, or will show you the need to explain how your algorithm is different from what everybody else is researching.

      Also, there are quite a few journals about comp-sci. Again, a professor w

    • by mean pun (717227) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:56PM (#32681750)

      I would say your best bet would be to contact your favorite comp. sci. college professor and ask him to sponsor your paper, before submission. First, it is good to publish with other people and second it more likely to be reviewed and get published. I am a biologist, but my understanding is that computer science publications are mainly submissions to large conferences. So, you may want to submit your paper to a conference.

      No offense, but your paper won't get into science unless to at least 10-fold improvement or something really earth shattering. My guess is that most algorithms would go to a specific journal like the Journal of GPS Algorithms.

      As an academic in computer science, and having both written and reviewed a quite a number of papers, I have to agree here. There are definitely venues to publish a truly novel algorithm. However:

      (1) Frankly, I would be surprised if you have been able to come up with something radically different from existing algorithms. I am sure that any reviewer of your paper will be equally suspicious, so you better back up that claim thoroughly. Do not assume that the reviewers know what is and isn't out there as related work, but show that you know what you are talking about, and in particular that YOU know what is out there as related work. Clearly explain why your work is different and superior. This is the hardest part of the paper to write. Doubly so in your case, since this is not a field where reviewers will expect that new things can be discovered.

      (2) Keep in mind that if you submit your paper to a conference, you are expected to present it there. You'll have to travel there, and pay the conference fee and living costs. Yes, the conference fee applies even if you present a paper there. A university group might be willing to pay all this for you in return for a co-authorship and the right to claim it as 'output' of that group. Journals are cheaper to publish in, although some ask for money per page. Also, their turnaround time can be maddening.

      (3) Picking the right venue for your paper can be tricky. Simply looking at the call for papers for the conference or journal may give you the impression that your subject fits well, but in reality they all have their own culture, and tend to concentrate on more specific subjects. The good news is that there are so many small and good-but-obscure journals out there, in particular in the more algorithmic side of computer science, that there surely will be a journal that is willing to publish good novel research. Try to find one where your paper is as on-topic as possible, because you'll have the greatest chances of getting reviewers who can properly evaluate your paper.

      (4) Write clearly. Reviewers nowadays don't have time to wrestle with muddled thinking, incoherent explanations, and glaring omissions of information, even if an obvious genius has written the paper. Not every reviewer will know what is novel in your approach if you don't point it out, and many will only bother to read the entire paper if you have motivated them enough in your abstract and summary (yes, many skip to the summary at first read.)

      Since there is more to learn, I have to repeat that hooking up with a research group is a very, very good idea.

      Getting a paper accepted is a lot of fun, though, and at least for me it compensates for all the grief that is part of the peer-review process.

  • by kackle (910159) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:14PM (#32681082)
    "So where should I send it to make it known by people on the respective fields and be taken seriously?"

    Why don't you use your fancy schmancy algorithm and locate that yourself!
  • OK, here it is (Score:3, Informative)

    by JamesP (688957) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:14PM (#32681088)

    1 - Patent. I don't know if US grants 'first publishing' rights or not, still. You don't need to wait for the application to go through though. Send it and the check to USPTO and it should be ok.

    2.1 - Know how to make your case in the article. Research similar stuff, references, etc, etc

    2.2 - Check for respectable publishers in the area concerned. I'm not sure Arxiv is a good idea, I'd try for IEEE, ACM or something more specific (and not as 'famous'). Easier to publish as well than Science, Nature, etc. Just avoid some journals that publish anything you throw at them.

    2.3 - Yay! You have a paper with your name on it. yay... sorry, no profit.

  • 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?
    • by vbraga (228124)

      Didn't GPS coordinates are defined to be on a specific ellipsoid? Been a long time since I looked into it. He may have a novel implementation of the Vicenty formulae. A computational geometry paper may publish it, but probably it is easier (and less burocratic) to do so on a smaller conference.

  • I'm not submitting my secret perpetual motion machine to any bunch of "boffins" with pre-conceived notions. my invention uses magnets... and ..and ... mirrors.. both are firmly scientific.

  • you might want to start with a guide like "How to Write & Publish A Scientific Paper" by Robert Day (ISBN-13: 978-1573561655).

    Then search for the appropriate journal. One suggestion is: GPS Solutions (published by Springer),

    http://www.springer.com/earth+sciences+and+geography/geophysics/journal/10291 [springer.com]

    Manuscript submission instructions and forms at: http://www.springer.com/journal/10291/submission [springer.com]

    Hope it works out for you!

  • Publish in a journal (Score:3, Informative)

    by zunger (17731) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:22PM (#32681212)

    "Indie" status doesn't actually matter that much in the publishing pipeline; you can submit your paper to a journal in the same way that anybody else does, and it will get the same consideration. (The place where organization status matters a bit more is at the reverse end -- if one of the authors is particularly well-known, that tends to make the review process easier)

    If your project has practical applications and you wish to patent, make sure to file that first. In that case, consult with a patent attorney on the right things to do next.

    Otherwise, pick the appropriate journal and submit following the guidelines on their web page. You'll definitely want to format your paper in LaTeX, since pretty much everyone requires that; some journals have standard LaTeX style packages they want you to use, but these are easy to plug in. (e.g., the Physical Review uses revtex.sty, and many other journals now use it too)

    As far as which journal you want, it depends on the particular field, but I'm guessing that Science isn't it -- that's a very high-profile journal which is intended to be things of interest to the scientific community at large, but in practice it has a fairly strong bio/chemistry/some physics focus. Someone else on this thread may have particular journal suggestions, or you may want to search on-line for similar (recent) papers and see where they were published. ACM transactions are often good "default" places in CS. Also, CS tends to prefer conference talks to straight-up journal publications; you may consider submitting your algorithm as a talk to some appropriate CS conference, in which case the article is published as part of the proceedings. Again, the conference depends on your particular subject.

    Don't worry about your lack of organizational affiliation. That's rarely a big issue.

  • Before you publish, absolutely file a provisional patent. It's cheap to do, and if you have created something valuable, as soon as you publish it, it will become public domain in Europe and the UK.

  • by obiquity (658885) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:22PM (#32681234)
    Note, I am a career academic scientist.

    Obviously, it should not matter if you are an individual or an institutional scientist and the science should stand on its own merits. Unfortunately, the signal to noise ratio of quality papers coming from non affiliated individual submitters is probably bad enough that most journal editors would rather not take the time or risk to send your work out for peer review. (Think of all the perpetual motion machine crackpots out there still). In most fields, peer review is a voluntary system of review for which reviewers are not compensated and requires substantial effort, so editors are loathe to ask volunteers to review a suspect manuscript fearing it will poison reviewers to subsequent inquires.

    Practically though, one way to look more credible is to incorporate (this is inexpensive in most states) and submit it corresponding from the corporation. Another strategy is to find a co-author at a research institution. This may be difficult because academics in my department get a surprising number of calls like this from people who are usually either disturbed or obviously idiotic. But most academics I know will take these calls, especially the younger ones. They might be able to check your work from a different perspective and can certainly help with the arcane apects of manuscript preparation, tone and format.
  • If you're uncertain, consider talking to a university. Specifically, talk to someone in the Comp. Sci. (or equivalent) department. They might not know where to go, but they can probably start pointing you in the right direction. Most people in academics have to publish, so talking to them might give you an idea of where to look.
  • Go figure out which journals are most relevant to the work you are doing, and start reading some papers from those journals. After all, if you haven't read current research in your field how can you know that nobody else has already done what you are doing? You can start by searching for your topic through something like Google Scholar or [google.com] Pubmed. You may need to pay a visit to a university to access some of the articles... [pubmed.gov]

    But either way, it is important to be knowledgeable in the research before attemp
  • Pay a visit to the library of a nearby university with a CS department (sometimes the departments have their own libraries) and look at the computer science related journals they have (a list of ACM associated journals can be found at http://www.acm.org/publications/panel/journals [acm.org]). Most of what I know about writing papers comes from reading them. The first thing you'll want to do is a literature search on related algorithms, and dig up some of those papers. Read through a bunch of them to see how they'r

  • How I'd do it... (Score:3, Informative)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:24PM (#32681282)

    1. Identify the IEEE "Transactions" journals and/or ACM journals that your work is most closely related to. If you don't have access to IEEE or ACM libraries online, you can either buy membership to those organizations (expect to pay $100-$300 per year, I believe) to get access; or you may have luck at a university library.

    2. Study the structure of the papers in those journals. Take note of what sections their papers have, and what fraction of column space is dedicated to each. You may want to be guided by this.

    3. In those same journals, look up their rules for submission. Also, look for advertisements by the editors regarding topics they'd especially like submissions for. If you find a call that's right up your topic's alley, you may want that to be the journal to which you submit the paper.

    4. Submit your idea to exactly one journal. I believe submitting the same paper to multiple journals get can get your paper thrown out.

    5. Some (most?) journals conduct "blind" reviews of submissions, in which the reviewers don't know your name or affiliation. So for those journals you probably don't need to worry about a lack of credibility coming from your lack of affiliation.

    6. Accept that your paper is unlikely to get accepted in its original submission. However, you should get comments back from the people who review it. Those comments are likely to be extremely valuable in making you aware of other related work, and/or in showing you what needs to change to get published.

    7. Oh, and use LaTeX.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:25PM (#32681284)

    You said you have never read a research paper, so how do you know you've not discovered an algorithm that has already been discovered?

    Even if your algorithm is original, then you would be expected to cite relevant work in the field and know where your algorithm fits in.

    In either case you probably need to start reading before you start writing.

    • by drooling-dog (189103) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:06PM (#32681864)

      Came here to say precisely this. No one here wants to say anything discouraging, even though it's the elephant in the room. My advice would be to survey the literature before you go to the trouble of writing an academic paper, which is 100% certain to be rejected by everybody if you don't show a good grasp of existing work in the field. Also, remember that peer review is an essential step in getting a paper accepted, so do a little of that yourself before submitting it (if you trust anyone not to steal your idea, that is).

      Realistically, it's about 99.9% certain that your algorithm isn't the big advance that you think it is. But one in a thousand is worth the effort, for sure.

  • by Krahar (1655029) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:25PM (#32681300)
    If you haven't read research papers, you can't possibly know that someone hasn't already discovered the algorithm you are working on, or perhaps has made one that is even better. You need to read the papers on the subject before you can know that, so that is step one. Also, to get published you need to cite other people's work when you use their results, even if you don't know you are using their results because you came up with that part on your own. Doesn't matter - if they did something you are using before, then it's their work and you need to cite them. To do that you need to know enough about the literature of the field to be able to know what to cite. An upside to that is that once you've done all this reading, you will know what journal you can submit your own article to.
  • A lot of work (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pigeon451 (958201) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:30PM (#32681352)

    To be published, your paper need references. Since you mention you've never read a research paper, you'll need to do an extensive publication search and review, introduce yours and other analysis methods, discuss why yours is an improvement, all complete with proper citations.

    If it sounds like a lot of work, IT IS, especially for your first one. It has to pass peer review, meaning, specialists in the field will read it and comment on whether it is suitable for publication. How you present your results is very important so the reader understands the idea.

    It may also be EXPENSIVE: Many journals charge you for publishing your article, and this can be hundreds of dollars. It also takes a lot of TIME, and be a few months before the first comments from reviews get back to you. You'll make revisions, then send it back, and wait awhile longer.

    The format of the paper is not too important, it will be formatted once accepted. The key is to efficiently and accurately disseminate your paper, which may include equations, graphs and tables. Many journals have templates in both LateX and Word -- Microsoft Word is perfectly fine for this.

    To determine which journal you should submit to, look up keywords common to your topic on Google Scholar. Perhaps some IEEE journal would be a good choice (just a guess, I have no idea what you're doing).

    If your idea is truly novel, patent it (writing a patent can be easy, might be expensive if you get a patent expert/lawyer involved, and you might also cite/review other similar patents). If you still want to write a research paper, try going to a local university and find a sympathetic professor who will aid you in your mission. Some profs won't bother helping, but some will be very pleased you've taken the initiative to do this and help you.

  • Literature search (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Alotau (714890) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:32PM (#32681388)
    If this is true:

    I've no experience on [research papers], not even read a complete one

    Then you will likely have a hard time writing a legitimate paper. A key aspect of most papers is a comparison of your work to work previously published. You need to establish how yours is novel. Without ever reading any other articles, I doubt you'll be able to do that successfully. Of course you'd need to do this to get a patent as well if you go the route others seem to be suggesting.

  • Is computing geodesic distances any sort of bottleneck for anyone? I find it hard to believe that it would be. If that's the case, then you may have a hard time getting it published. Amdahl's law and all, a 10x speedup in something that represents only 1% of the total time of an algorithm gives you less than a 1% speedup of the overall system. The other point I haven't seen anyone make, is that if it's a common problem, then chances are the math for the proper solution is already known (especially if y
  • research paper tips (Score:5, Informative)

    by lordcorusa (591938) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:38PM (#32681482)

    0) By "greatly improves the performance" do you mean by some order of magnitude, or merely by a constant factor? For example, are you going from O(n^2) to O(n log n), or is it only O(10n) to O(5n). Don't get me wrong, the latter can be useful, but the former would draw more attention from the research community. I assume you know Big-O notation and formal analysis of algorithms, otherwise you will need to learn about it before submitting a research paper in algorithms.

    1) If you have never even read a full research paper, then how do you know your approach is new or better than existing approaches? First, I would recommend getting a data structures and algorithms book and a computational geometry book. Read through those looking not only for things similar to your technique, but also just to make sure you have the vocabulary correct. Then move on to Google Scholar and start looking into the more recent scholarly journals and conference proceedings on the topic. You will need subscriptions (probably via a university) to see a lot of that content, but you can try the "All X versions" link beneath most articles to see if the author published a PDF on a public web site. Books are usually years behind the state of the art, and a lot of newer research and algorithms only fully appears in papers. Also, a lot of research (most?) is not published on blogs, so your algorithm may not be as new or groundbreaking as you think. Or if it is, you still may find more inspiration to improve it from related techniques.

    2) Ditto what others have said about learning LaTeX for page layout. However, if you might want to publish in a specific journal or conference, then you might have to use their specific format, so you might just want to type your first draft as plain text and a collection of images, for import into a specific LaTeX template later.

    3) Writing style: You must be *very* *formal* in your writing style to be considered credible in academic circles. Have an English teacher (or similarly-minded person) go over the paper with a fine-toothed comb looking for any spelling, grammar, or word-use errors. Absolutely no slang or colloquialisms whatsoever are acceptable in a research paper. Do not use contractions. Try not to use any analogies unless they are truly apt and likely to be universally understood. Try not to use first or second person in the paper. Remember, people from all over the world from different cultures, many of whom do not speak English as their primary language, will hopefully be reading your paper, and you don't want them to get confused by any culture-specific concepts or words.

    4) If your algorithm really is new or groundbreaking, then I would strongly recommend trying to publish in a proper academic workshop or conference first (try ACM or IEEE conferences on computational geometry, location-driven computing, etc.), rather than a free online archive. You will get far more credibility and exposure in academia, and you just might get your employer to pay for a junket to a conference! Workshops are more for newer, less developed research, so you may have an easier time publishing there. Conferences are for more established research, so it's harder to get in them, but they carry much more respect. Also, most workshops and conferences have industrial tracks, if your paper focuses less on formal algorithmic analysis and more on real-world uses.

    5) Be warned though, that although conferences are supposed to be submitter-blind, often it's much easier to get a publication when you have a known academic co-author on the paper. You might want to look up authors of papers related to yours, find the Ph.D.s on the paper, and approach them about a collaboration. This might take a bit more time, and you would have to share credit (just make sure you are first-author), but it may be worthwhile to get more exposure and credibility. They might also be able to help point you toward making further improvements to your algorithm.

    6) Please, please, do not patent your algorithm! There is more than enough patented math already; the world does not need yet another algorithm that can't be used by anyone for 20 years.

  • Overall, it's not too hard. Affiliations aren't all that important to the process and professorship/etc doesn't matter. Most of the time, the reviews and such are done blind.

    1. The first thing you need to do is research the current state of the field and have a good idea how yours relates.

    2. Next, pick a journal that is in your field and is appropriate. IEEE may be a good place to start, but with your research you'll find what similar papers are published in. You won't be published in Science.

    3. Write

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:45PM (#32681592) Homepage

    Having had to write just such code for a DARPA Grand Challenge vehicle, I'd question whether a new algorithm developed without looking at the literature is likely to be new. There were high-precision GPS systems with 15cm accuracy seven years ago, and the new ones are even better. [novatel.com] Novatel is now offering 1cm repeatability. [novatel.com]

    Besides, distance between two GPS points is straightforward. The high-precision receivers give you ECEF (earth-centered, earth fixed,; 3 axes centered at the center of the earth) coordinates, which are Cartesian. There, it's trivial. If all you have is latitude and longitude, the GPS device has already converted from ECEF to latitude and longitude using some standard geoid (a standard formula for the pair-shaped earth correction, like WGS-84). You use the appropriate geoid for the GPS device to convert back to ECEF, then compute the distance.

  • I would suggest you go to someone who you know in an academic or technical field that has published papers of this sort, and ask that person to help you publish it. If there's no university nearby, ask local friends if they know anybody --- if you're not in a similar situation, someone will remember a computer science or applied math professor from college.

    You will probably need to improve your material with their help, too and that may mean sharing credit. As long as you establish up front that you mean t

  • Easy. (Score:5, Funny)

    by tool462 (677306) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:00PM (#32681790)

    Publish it on Slashdot. Our world-renowned peer-review process will include:

    1) Claims that it's vaporware
    2) Claims that it's obviously patentable
    3) Claims that it's patently obvious
    4) Claims that it's identical to a completely different algorithm
    5) Claims that it won't work from people who either didn't read or didn't understand your paper
    6) Claims that it's an amazing breakthrough from people who either didn't read or didn't understand your paper
    7) Two separate Microsoft/Apple fanboi wars.
    8) One guy saying how awesome it would be if somebody made an implementation of your algorithm in their favorite programming language.
    9) One useful response that you'll never read because the poster accidentally replied to the wrong thread and got modded -1, Flamebait

  • by AndOne (815855)
    Most IEEE type journals require a submission in PDF format. They don't care how you get it to that form so as long as you use the right fonts and can express the math clearly. Use whatever PDF authoring tool you're comfortable with. As others have stated Latex is a great choice but it has a definite learning curve.

    Here is a not so short intro(but shorter than most) to Latex. Intro [slashdot.org]

    Furthermore, you'll want to have a number of references. It depends on the conference/journal in question but around
  • by da cog (531643) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:11PM (#32681926)

    As a graduate student, who has just started learning how to write and submit papers, I have the following advice.

    First, the submission process is a lot more open then I thought it would be; you create an author account, and then just submit the paper. Your paper then will largely be judged on its merit --- whether it is well written, well-explained, interesting, and brings a worthwhile new idea to the table. So in short, don't be scared off from publishing. :-)

    Second, do a lot of background reading before hand so that you can figure out where your idea ties in to what has been done before. This is *very* important, because for your paper to be taken seriously you need to show that you have done your homework to learn what has been done before.

    Third, keep in mind that most people who read your paper won't care about the details and will just want to figure out what the big takeaway idea is that they should learn --- the same that you yourself will often find yourself doing when perusing academic papers. So although you should endeavor to explain your ideas clearly and precisely enough that someone can implement your algorithm, you should also have a high-level description that explains the big-picture insight behind your idea.

    Finally, part of what makes good papers is that they have a good "story" behind them. They start by talking about what has come before, leading up to the new idea that is being presented in the paper and how it follows from or intentionally diverges from previous work. They then talk about the intuition behind the idea itself to give the reader a high-level understanding of the insight behind it. (Note that this is where most people will stop reading, so you want to make the parts up to this good for their benefit. :-) ) Next they go into the technical details of their idea, in a way that is as pedagogical as possible; at every step they explain not only how something was done, but why it was done in that particular way. Finally, they describe how the idea works out well in practice, and then conclude by reminding the reader about what the significance of the idea is (because by this point if they actually read over the details they probably have forgotten :-) ), and end with an optional (brief) discussion about what future research questions are inspired by your idea.

    Good luck, and most importantly --- have fun! :-)

  • by CODiNE (27417)

    Considering how he's said exactly what the problem he's working on is I'm shocked that several geeks haven't already perused the known algorithms for it and come up with the exact same method he has.

  • From your description it sounds as if it's an algorithm that's more general than just GPS. Maybe it works for all hyperbolic positioning systems, or maybe even for all positioning systems. I'd look at the journals and conferences of the Institute of Navigation [ion.org] and Royal Institute of Navigation [rin.org.uk].
  • Read a paper first (Score:3, Informative)

    by Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:15PM (#32681994)

    If you haven't even read a complete paper first then it is unlikely you will get your own paper published simply because journals have some expectations of how the material is to be presented (including how much history to include, relating to the wok of others etc.), proper methods of citation, and so on. This has nothing to do with the merit of your idea or the results it is simply that if you want to present in a particular forum then you need to know the rules and expectations of the forum.

    Unless you are going to publish as a conference paper (the easiest way and usually the lowest bar for refereed papers) you can expect that it may takes years before it is reviewed, returned to you with the comments of the referees, resubmitted, and then finally published. So you might want to get it out on a website somewhere just to stake claim to having thought of the idea first.

    Another alternative is to do a poster at a conference - it is much easier to get accepted for that, the amount of work putting your stuff into the expected form is much less etc. etc. It doesn't count as a refereed paper but if you aren't interested in academic points then so what? Also (you may find this surprising) many academic journals expect you to pay them to publish your paper.

  • If you are a member of a professional society (I'm a member of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications), then see if it is something they will publish. The benefit of this is that professional societies have their own criteria when it comes to deciding who is a reputable source - and that criteria is usually built into the membership in the first place. They are the scientific/academic equivalent of guilds and membership of one is often highly desirable. If you're good enough to write publishable

  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by alexmipego (903944)

      One more note, some people ask the usefulness of the algorithm and if it's 10% improvement then it's not worth it. The algorithm to calculate distances between points can be used not too often on certain devices or apps, however, there are systems like Google Maps or 4Square that have to compute the distance between a point and millions of other points in real time, often hundreds servers are used solely for this. If you could improve that step in 1% it would represent 1 less server in 100.

      Do not quote me

    • 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!

  • As a researcher in Physics, here are what I would suggest.

    First, getting your paper out there for other people to see is the easy part: just post it on arxiv.org. Free, open for everybody, and easy to submit to. It also has the bonus of offering the LaTeX source of most papers submitted to it, meaning that you can just download a closely-related paper, and copy their formatting! Often specific journals also have their own LaTeX formatting rules and support files, so if you are able to pick out a specif
  • 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.

    Why not post it into a blog? Put it there, post a link on Slashdot; if it's any good, the word will get around.

    Maybe we should create an Independent Research wiki or something for this kind of things?

  • Are you sure you haven't reinvented the wheel?

    Mapmakers and Mathematicians have been working in this area for like, centuries.

    If you're talking straight-line, great-circle routes, that was reduced to simple formulas a very long time ago.

    If you're talking about contour-following, or minimum-energy paths, or road-following, that was worked out before we were born.

    If you're talking about efficient algorithms for searching geo databases, that's been well plumbed too.

    If you're talking abou

  • by PPH (736903)

    Post it on Slashdot.

    We need some new material for 'Bad Car Analogies' and 'In Soviet Russia' replies.

  • It sounds like you have two vertical markets to look at for publishing:

    • ACM - Association for Computing Machinery, is the major computer science organization, http://www.acm.org/ [acm.org] They would be interested in the algorithm and its impact
    • The Geological Society of America, http://www.geosociety.org/ [geosociety.org] or similar in your host country.

    Both of these organizations publish several different journals and you'd need to submit to the right one. You'll want to email or telephone someone on the inside to get a better ide

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