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Some mathematics journals publish "research announcements", a class of publication that before today I had not heard of. An example is Electronic Research Announcements in Mathematical Sciences.

I presume that after publishing a research announcement in such a journal presenting a particular result, one can subsequently then publish a full research paper on the same result at a later date, generally in a different journal. Obviously, it is not ordinarily the case that journals will knowingly allow the same result to be published twice. Therefore, research announcements must have some defining properties which make this practice acceptable.

My question is the following: what are the properties of the research announcement which allow the subsequent publication of the full research paper describing the same result?

Such a question may be of importance; for example, to a journal editor who is handling a submission that describes a result which has been previously published as a research announcement. Perhaps the answer is simple: that the research announcement must contain no proofs. But perhaps the convention is more subtle than this, I'm not sure.

I am aware that the practice of publishing research announcements is not widespread, and I am not interested for the purposes of this question in discussing whether anyone ought to publish a research announcement in any particular situation.

I believe that this question is best suited to mathoverflow.net, rather than (for example) to academia.stackexchange.com, as I am asking specifically about publication practice in mathematics.

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    $\begingroup$ I recommend that you read several research announcements. $\endgroup$ – Jason Starr Aug 5 '18 at 22:38
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    $\begingroup$ Hello Jason, thanks for your comment. I have over the past hour read quite a few research announcements. They are all around 10 pages, and none of them contain full proofs. Some of them do contain quite detailed proof sketches. I remain interested to find out the answer to my question! $\endgroup$ – Jamie Vicary Aug 5 '18 at 22:43
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    $\begingroup$ I think that you have answered your own question. Typically, research announcements do not contain complete proofs, but there is a suggestion that forthcoming work will give more details. That forthcoming work does not always happen, and readers usually treat research announcements a bit differently than articles published in other journals. $\endgroup$ – Jason Starr Aug 5 '18 at 22:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Suvrit. If you read some research announcements, you will find the answer to your question. For one example, research announcements in "Comptes Rendus Math'ematique" are often very high-level and important. For instance, Yevsey Nisnevich used the Nisnevich topology to solve the first major case of the Grothendieck-Serre conjecture in one of these research announcements (while Nisnevich was at Stony Brook). $\endgroup$ – Jason Starr Aug 6 '18 at 1:11
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    $\begingroup$ I published a 5-page research announcement recently (arxiv.org/abs/1610.05904) and it was peer reviewed. The proofs were only very short sketches, so my guess is it's a bit like in experimental science, where the referee has to trust the authors are being honest, and just give the results a sniff test as to whether it reads like sound work. $\endgroup$ – David Roberts Aug 6 '18 at 10:55
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This is an extended comment on history of research announcements. The principal mathematical journal which did this was Comptes Rendus published by the French Academy. It published (and still publishes) very short notes (1-2 pages), usually without complete proofs or with very short sketches of proofs. The papers were either by the members of the Academy, or approved by the members, and the time of publication was very short. Usually (but not always) several publications on the same topic were followed by a long paper, with complete proofs, covering the same material.

Soviet Doklady was analogous. Later, Bull Amer. Math. Soc. followed (it published surveys and research announcements). The Soviet analog, Uspekhi Mat. Nauk (translated as the Russian Math Surveys) also published research announcements, but they were not translated into English. Another similar publication was Abstracts of the talks presented to the AMS. It published very short (few lines) announcements based on the talks actually made in the AMS meetings.

The purpose of these publications was manifold. First, to secure priority. Second, to inform the experts, what results you obtained. (For a real expert in the area, a short announcement may be enough to understand what is going on). After you secure priority and inform people on what you have done, you may relax and spend several years of time on writing a complete definitive version.

Such publications, (at least in theory) were very quick: the papers of the members of the Academy were not refereed, while other papers were only endorsed by a member. (I remember how once I explained my result to Paul Malliavin, on a conference, and gave him a note. Next morning he told me that it is accepted:-)

If you look at the publication lists of such people as Picard, Poincare, Krein or Kolmogorov, you see that about 70% of their publications are CR/Doklady notes.

Of the very famous results published only as "research announcements" by their authors, let me mention KAM theory by Kolmogorov, and Krein's "theory of string". As far as I know these authors never published complete papers leaving this to others. Of more modern examples, the works of Sullivan and Douady -Hubbard which made the revolution in holomorphic dynamics were published as research announcements in Comptes Rendus in 1982. Sullivan published a complete version in 1985, when several alternative expositions based on his announcement were already available, while the work of Douady Hubbard is still available only as a preprint. On my opinion it was very important that interested people could learn about this breakthrough in 1982 three years before Sullivan published a complete paper. It was possible for an expert to understand his proof from the short announcement.

The papers of Yoccoz and Smirnov (for which Fields medals were awarded) were also published in Comptes rendus, without complete details.

EDIT. Nowadays, when we have the arXiv where we can publish anything, with no delay, the role of research announcements declines. On my opinion the arXiv performs both main functions of research announcements: quickly spreads the information and secures priority.

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    $\begingroup$ The AMS Notices also had abstracts "presented by title". These were similar to the abstracts of talks at AMS meetings, but there was no actual talk associated to the abstract. $\endgroup$ – Andreas Blass Aug 6 '18 at 12:52
  • $\begingroup$ Would you say that Functional Analysis and Applications also had similar aims, at least originally? $\endgroup$ – Yemon Choi Aug 6 '18 at 13:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Yemon Choi: Yes, FA&A had two parts: for long articles and short "notes". Also "Uspekhi Mat Nauk" (Russian Math Surveys) published short announcements; they were not translated in the English version. $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Eremenko Aug 7 '18 at 12:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Deane Yang: This is correct, in principle. The problem is that this is not a mathematical journal. Personally, I have a bad experience with it (and some my friends too). After obtaining an endorsement of an Academy member, they required that "a complete version of the paper be accepted in another journal" (see the answer of Carlo Beenakker). On my opinion, this requirement is absurd. My long and complete paper happened to be accepted. When I informed the editor about this, he replied: "But then there is no reason to publish a short announcement!" $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Eremenko Aug 8 '18 at 14:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Deane Yang: I agree, and there is also another reason for this. See the "EDIT" in the end of my answer. I just counted: Until 1999 I published 17 research announcements, and after 1999 only two. Though my general publication rate was constant. $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Eremenko Aug 8 '18 at 15:03
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I think research announcements were more common in the past. Before the Internet. You send your paper to the journal, but since it may be more than a year before it appears in print, you also send an announcement to another journal. In mathematics, the announcement states the main results, without proof. But, of course, nowadays, when you send your paper to the journal you can also place it at arXiv.org so that the announcement is not needed.

Anecdotally: back in those days, some Soviet journals published research announcements, but corresponding papers never appeared subsequently, leading some in the West to suspect that: in fact there were no proofs known when the announcement appeared, but (as a sort of gamesmanship) that Soviet author wanted to discourage anyone else from working on the problem.

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    $\begingroup$ Was the practice you describe in the last paragraph more common in Soviet journals than in Western ones? There are certainly a number of Western research announcements that never became papers, so I wonder if some Soviet scientists had a sentiment similar to yours. It would be great to hear from some of them. $\endgroup$ – Boris Bukh Aug 6 '18 at 14:32
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    $\begingroup$ I have heard that, in the old USSR, mimeo machines or photocopiers were tightly controlled. So, unlike in the West, it was more complicated to make and send manuscript copies to a a mailing list of experts... $\endgroup$ – paul garrett Aug 7 '18 at 13:00
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The question in the OP is one of best practices. This has been articulated by Jaffe and Quinn in this AMS bulletin:

Principle of best practice:

Research announcements should not be published, except as summaries of full versions that have been accepted for publication. Citations of unpublished work should clearly distinguish between announcements and complete preprints.

I notice that one journal that publishes announcements, Applied Mathematics Letters, follows this principle (albeit in a somewhat weakened form: "submitted" instead of "accepted") by requiring that:

The Research Announcements should be 3-4-page summaries of important results in a longer paper recently submitted to a leading journal by a well-established researcher.


Since priority issues can be settled by the arXiv submission, the purpose of announcements has shifted from achieving faster publication to reaching a broader audience. In physics the journals Physical Review Letters (PRL) and Physical Review aim for such a dual role, as described in this editorial:

The submission of an expanded version of an [announcement in] PRL to a topical Physical Review journal is an established practice that provides readers with easier access to important additional information. If authors simultaneously submit a Letter to PRL and a regular paper to one of the Physical Review journals, the two manuscripts are then reviewed coherently, typically by the same reviewers. If both papers receive favorable reviews, we aim to publish them at the same time, unless this leads to undue delay for one of them. We also ensure that the paper and the Letter cite each other.

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    $\begingroup$ except for the incorrect words: "...a well-established researcher"... $\endgroup$ – Suvrit Aug 6 '18 at 12:21
  • $\begingroup$ On my opinion, the first "Principle" is absurd. See my reply on the comment by Deane Yang to my answer. The time of publication (after acceptance) is the same for long papers and research announcements. $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Eremenko Aug 8 '18 at 14:32
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexandreEremenko --- indeed, but for exposure of breakthrough results to a broader audience a brief announcement of an accepted long paper could still serve a purpose. $\endgroup$ – Carlo Beenakker Aug 8 '18 at 14:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Carlo Beenakker: It is exactly with this argument that I convinced the editor of PNAS to publish my announcement: PNAS has a very different audience, and I thought that my results could be of interest not only to mathematicians. Citation of this paper confirmed that I was right. $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Eremenko Aug 8 '18 at 14:58

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