Governance by those who do the work.

Monday, May 11, 2020

The difference between physics and mathematics writing

Being a mathematician, I am having difficulty getting my fluid-dynamics papers accepted for publication.   So I have come to the realization that mathematics and physics papers are vastly different.
The methodology in a mathematics paper is at least as important as the result; there are cases where a shorter proof generates almost as much excitement as the original.
It appears that for physicists, the result is paramount and the methodology is mainly for vetting the results.  To develop an elegant theory which provides results which are already known is of no interest; there must be some lack or deficiency in a known result for the physicist to read past the abstract.  And that lack or deficiency must be stated up front; one of my papers was rejected because it didn't tell a story.
Mathematicians tend to read a paper from start to finish and are delighted by footnotes with unexpected connections to other fields.  The Journal of Fluid Mechanics nearly forbids footnotes in their instructions for authors.
There are variations among physics journals as well.  For journals with an engineering bent, stating that a coefficient of 0.450 is actually sqrt(2)/pi is probably best left out.