MathOverflow is a question and answer site for professional mathematicians. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

All of us have heard this before: "publishing a journal paper in area X is more difficult or takes more time than area Y". This is vague, and sometimes people working in area Y may find this kind of comparison offensive, but the question is not a matter of how important, useful, deep, or difficult an area is; rather, it is precisely about the difficulty of the production process. For example, some areas have been studied for a long time, and there is nothing much one could be hopeful to solve in them, or what is left to explore is extremely difficult. My specific question is whether there has been any statistical study for this that compares the rate of production in different fields of contemporary mathematics. I wonder if AMS, MAA, or NSF have done anything in this respect.

share|cite|improve this question

closed as off topic by Andrés Caicedo, Igor Rivin, Andy Putman, Franz Lemmermeyer, Ryan Budney May 2 '11 at 7:14

Questions on MathOverflow are expected to relate to research level mathematics within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Well, I did not get any definitive answers, so ... :) – Mariano Suárez-Alvarez May 1 '11 at 19:32
I doubt there is a good answer to this question, if "difficulty of production" means anything deeper than just "rate of publishing". For example, theoretical computer scientists publish more than mathematicians in some other areas. Is this because the field is young and it's easier to make important contributions? Because the field has a culture of hard work? A culture of lower standards for what is publishable? Because teaching loads are lower? Because publishing with students is more common? Even experts will disagree, and non-experts have little hope of interpreting the statistics. – Henry Cohn May 1 '11 at 22:21
Somewhat relevant: Topical Bias in Generalist Mathematics Journals, by Joseph F. Grcar (Notices, Dec 2010). – Thierry Zell May 1 '11 at 23:11
As you say (emphasize mine) "sometimes people working in area Y may find this kind of comparison offensive " no matter your "but", I think such a discussion might cause problems. (Not that it is not fun or interesting in principle, but this venue seems not made for this.) – quid May 1 '11 at 23:25
If this is not "subjective and argumentative" I don't know what is. Voting to close. – Igor Rivin May 2 '11 at 2:38

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.