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129
votes
16answers
53k views

What's a mathematician to do? [closed]

I have to apologize because this is not the normal sort of question for this site, but there have been times in the past where MO was remarkably helpful and kind to undergrads with similar types of ...
120
votes
8answers
4k views

Resources for mathematics advising.

This question is possibly ill-advised. (If it is not right for this site I will delete it.) I, suddenly, have students. It is very clear to me that there is nothing in my education that has ...
97
votes
7answers
6k views

How to escape the inclination to be a universalist or: How to learn to stop worrying and do some research.

As an undergraduate we are trained as mathematicians to be universalists. We are expected to embrace a wide spectrum of mathematics. Both algebra and analysis are presented on equal footing with ...
94
votes
14answers
15k views

Careers advice for Ph.D.s without current postdocs or university jobs

Hi, I'm sure I'm not the only Ph.D. mathematician on MO in serious need of career advice. I'm sure there will be other readers in similar situations, who will find any good advice very helpful. Can ...
58
votes
7answers
8k views

Lost soul: loneliness in pursing math. Advice needed. [closed]

This is a atypical question for the forum. I'd like to get some advice on whether I should keep pursuing Math in the traditional route, i.e. get a PhD, do research & teach, etc. Due to financial ...
54
votes
7answers
6k views

What items MUST appear on a mathematician's CV?

Writing a CV makes me paranoid that I'm failing to abide by unwritten rules. Of course CVs are flexible to capture the diversity of accomplishments someone might have. But there must be plenty of ...
44
votes
8answers
4k views

Proper way to deal with papers you've already refereed.

This question is anonymous for obvious reasons. I referee what feels like a decent number of papers (though I don't know how many is normal!), and I try to take it seriously. Sometimes, based on ...
42
votes
8answers
5k views

Publishing a bad paper?

First, I apologize if mathoverflow is a bad fit for this question, but it is the only place where I can think to get advice from professionals given my circumstance. I'm also sorry about any vagueness ...
41
votes
18answers
5k views

How can an extremely mathematically talented young person be helped to fulfill his/her potential?

Obviously, this question is not a research level mathematics question at all. But, I've just met an extremely mathematically talented 11 years old student and I don't know how I can help him. For ...
37
votes
4answers
3k views

How much reading do you do before you attack a problem?

When going off on a tangent from your regular area, where, presumably, you have such mastery of all cutting-edge research from your routine reading that you hardly need to do any extra (if this is ...
32
votes
3answers
8k views

Submission of a paper with a serious error to a good journal

I recently obtained (or so I thought) a good result, and after a month of reading and rereading what I'd written, submitted my paper to a very good journal. I'm early in my career (got my Ph.D. a few ...
30
votes
16answers
24k views

Undergraduate math research

I believe this is the right place to ask this, so I was wondering if anyone could give me advice on research at the undergraduate level. I was recently accepted into the McNair Scholars program. It ...
30
votes
2answers
3k views

A question about rejected journal submissions, similar results, and discrepancies between the order of submission and the order of publication [closed]

Today I just received the decision of my paper from a journal. The paper was submitted last December and my paper is kind of long (about 40 pages), so I think it's reasonable to take such a long time ...
28
votes
3answers
14k views

What counts as an 'invited' talk?

When you write your CV, what do you count as an invited talk? Does it count if you're invited but not provided funding (this has happened to me several times at AMS special sessions)? What if someone ...
26
votes
7answers
3k views

Should one attack hard problems?

When I applied for a PhD student position I had an interview with two professors. Somehow we touched the problem if $P$ is $NP$ and, once we got there, for some reason both professors made it clear ...
26
votes
5answers
2k views

Presenting work in progress [closed]

At some point in the evolution of a project, one has to decide when to start talking about it in seminars and at conferences. I am interested in hearing about how other mathematicians make this ...
26
votes
5answers
9k views

Advice for pure-math Phd students [closed]

Pursuing a Phd in pure math can be a daunting task. A number of students who begin a Phd in pure math don't complete it, and there are high-quality dissertations and those which are not so high ...
25
votes
3answers
4k views

how to use arxiv?

Hello, This is a soft question. How do people usually use arxiv to put their papers? At which stage does one usually put his/her paper/report there? Someone suggests me to submit a paper while ...
24
votes
11answers
5k views

Switching Research Fields

I am a recent PhD specializing in algebraic geometry. But I also want to do research in some other areas of math (e.g. quantum computation, compressed sensing, and PDE's). What would be a good way of ...
24
votes
9answers
3k views

Can breadth hurt a job candidate?

I am a junior mathematician, currently on the job market. I have been involved in a number of projects spread over several very different topics of mathematics, some being very mathematical projects ...
24
votes
6answers
2k views

Oneupsmanship and Publishing Etiquette

Apologies for the anonymous (and, in hindsight, mildly longish) question. I have an etiquette question on publishing an improvement of another author's work, but I figured a thread on the matter to ...
24
votes
2answers
2k views

When should I publish my results?

I just finish my masters thesis, and I was told by one of the referees that I should publish some of the results in there. However I feel that I mainly repeat arguments by other people in a slightly ...
24
votes
2answers
1k views

How to balance writing professionally and being able to have a conversation with your reader?

Background. I am someone at the very very beginning stages of my career as a mathematician, and am, for example, almost ready to (re)submit my first paper. I have already read a lot of essays on how ...
21
votes
9answers
3k views

Research topics restricted to students at top universities?

Hello everybody. I am a Ph.D student in North America looking for advice about my prospective research area. My supervisor works in a research area, let's say area A, so as soon as I was accepted as ...
21
votes
3answers
3k views

How do you make a good math research poster for a non-mathematical audience?

I have the opportunity to prepare a research poster for a non-mathematical, yet scientifically savvy audience, and I want to do it well. I have asked a few mathematicians, and I have heard the ...
21
votes
3answers
1k views

How to assess research “impact” for tenure/promotion committees

Over the last several years, the college-level promotion & tenure committee at my university has increasingly been seeking to apply "objective" criteria for assessing the impact of candidates' ...
20
votes
3answers
14k views

How to transition from pure math PhD to nonacademic career?

I'm finishing up a PhD in math and am thinking about options outside of academia. So far, I've really only focused on pure mathematics, but I have a year left of grad school. Suppose I am interested ...
19
votes
7answers
6k views

Advice on doing mathematical research

Please share any general tips or advice you have on doing mathematical research. How do you identify good problems to work on or to think about? What do you do when you get stuck on a problem? Etc.
19
votes
5answers
3k views

Moving to academia from industry

I hope that the following question is suitable for MO. There have been several others in a similar vein, including this one about moving from maths into industry, this one about careers advice for ...
19
votes
3answers
2k views

Contacting an eminent mathematician

I have recently started a PhD. and am researching an area that two now eminent mathematicians devoted considerable time to in the 1980s. However, there appears to have been fairly moderate focus on ...
18
votes
6answers
2k views

Yet another 'roadmap' style request- a second bite of the cherry

Okay, so I know MO has had a recent proliferation of this kind of question, and I know MO is not really for this type of question (though I suspect perhaps this is a phenomenon that is likely to ...
18
votes
10answers
3k views

Research Experience for Undergraduates: Summer Programs

Some time ago, I found this list of REU programs held in 2009. The main aspects that characterize such programs are: (a) a great deal of lectures on specific topics; and, admittedly more ...
17
votes
7answers
1k views

Where to find (personal) motivation [closed]

I think it would be appropriate to make this question CW... It is likely that this question will not survive here on MO for long, but I do hope that the community gives it a chance. I also hope to ...
17
votes
5answers
1k views

When to split/merge papers?

I ran into the following problem. I have some lengthy paper in which I develop some theory to attack some problem. While I was working on this paper, I got some nice result which might interest a ...
17
votes
8answers
8k views

Curriculum vitae: including grants you've applied for, not received (or not yet received).

I've heard from multiple sources now that one's CV should include grants you've applied for, even if you didn't receive them or won't find out if you've received them until after your CV goes out. I ...
16
votes
5answers
4k views

Advice on changing topic for thesis problem

I am starting to find my thesis problem not meaningful nor interesting and too technical. As I learn more mathematics I am finding myself attracted to other topics and only started on my intital ...
16
votes
4answers
2k views

How important is it for one on the job market to have thought about suitable REU projects?

An REU is a "Research Experience for Undergraduates" and entails undergrads (usually after their junior year) coming for 8-10 weeks out of the summer to University X to learn about and work on a ...
16
votes
14answers
2k views

Teaching a pedagogy course

At my institution incoming graduate students must take a semester long course on pedagogy taught by current grad students. I may soon be in the position of having to teach this course and I'm looking ...
16
votes
4answers
3k views

Maiden Names vs. Married Names

Is there a set convention for which name (maiden name or married name) a female married mathematician should use? While this question addresses women's maiden name it applies equally to men's maiden ...
16
votes
2answers
3k views

How to make the move to a research university from a liberal arts school?

Some mathematicians are in positions that emphasize teaching at predominantly undergraduate colleges but find themselves desiring positions at research universities. This may happen because their ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Submitting papers “out of logical order” due to different review times or rejections

I am asking this question anonymously and apologize for the paranoia. Suppose you submit a paper on a topic and, while the paper is under review, continue to work on the topic and make enough ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

Source of wisdom on how to improve the ratio of time feeling fulfilled to time feeling frustrated in research?

I thought I remembered reading something along the lines of the following advice in Littlewood’s Miscellany, but it doesn't appear to be there. Researchers spend the vast majority of their time ...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

Is it possible to get another math PhD

My undergrad being in a field other than mathematics (and not in the US), I couldn't get into the Princeton/Harvard/MIT tier of universities for my math PhD. I settled for a lesser program and got my ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Problems with Journal Submissions due to arXiv Submission? [closed]

Hello, I wanted to ask people if they know of any journals that will not accept papers for submission if they have been already posted on arxiv. I am personally interested in Logic Journals, but ...
11
votes
7answers
4k views

How to/Can you get a PhD position when you need more experience first?

My friend loves mathematics and wants to continue research as a mathematics PhD student, but this doesn't seem possible! She did a prestigious but inadequate bachelors program (almost no math) and ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

Is it OK for a referee to acknowledge identity with a previous referee?

As with this older related question, question anonymous for obvious reasons. If I have been asked to review the same paper twice, is it OK to acknowledge in my review that I am the same person as one ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

What to expect from attending an ICM?

Since ICM 2010 is due to be held in Hyderabad next august, and since I never attended such an event, I am wondering if those MO users who did attend at least one ICM could share some of their wisdom ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

How difficult will it be for me to switch fields (details below) after my Ph.D. in pure mathematics?

I'm a first year postdoctoral researcher, working in pure areas of Riemann surfaces and differential geometry, after just finishing my Ph.D. in 2013. Recently I've also started taking interest in ...
10
votes
1answer
2k views

Should I tell my current employer that I am applying to other jobs? Should I have at least one letter of recommendation come from someone in the faculty at my current job? [closed]

Hello, I have a question regarding etiquette for applying for jobs. Background: I graduated recently with a PhD in mathematics and took a job at a small college. I have worked there pleasantly ...
10
votes
0answers
387 views

State of research in moduli space of flat connections

I am a recent PhD student trying to settle into a research topic. Even though I have a current project I am working on, I am not particularly enjoying it and would like to switch. Before braving the ...