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WRITING PHYSICS

PAPERS
101

Publish or Perish

J. F. Presentation of Scientific Results

reading about physics writing
ƒ M. Alley, The craft of scientific writing, 3rd Ed.,
Springer New York, 1996.
ƒ B. Goss Levi: Some simple rules of writing
http://www.research.att.com/kbl/APS/dec97/rules.html
ƒ D. Mermin: What’s wrong with this prose?
Physics Today, May 1989, p.9
ƒ D. Mermin, What‘s wrong with these equations?
Physics Today, October 1989, p.9
ƒ D. Mermin: Writing physics
http://www.lassp.cornell.edu/~cew2/KnightLecture.html

J. F. Presentation of Scientific Results

OUTLINE

ƒ Why are we writing papers?
ƒ What physics journals there are?
ƒ Structure of a physics article
ƒ LaTeX 001
ƒ Hints for effective writing
ƒ Submit & fight

J. F. Presentation of Scientific Results

Presentation of Scientific Results . F.WHY ARE WE WRITING PAPERS? J.

and useful research ƒ To let others know what we are working on (and that we are working at all) ƒ To organize our thoughts ƒ To formulate our research in a comprehensible way ƒ To secure further funding ƒ To further our careers ƒ To make our publication lists look more impressive ƒ To have fun? ƒ Because we believe someone is going to read it!!! J. interesting. F. Presentation of Scientific Results .ƒ To communicate our original.

F.WHAT PHYSICS JOURNALS ARE THERE? J. Presentation of Scientific Results .

org 9 Physical Review C breakthroughs in all areas prc.org atomic. molecular. gravitation and cosmology J. nonlinear.aps.aps.aps.org particles.org 9 Reviews of Modern Physics nuclear physics rmp.org pre.aps.aps.org 9 Physical Review Letters (PRL) condensed matter and materials physics prl. and optical physics statistical. F.aps. fields.aps. Hard-science journals Physical Reviews series 9 Physical Review A 9 Physical Review E pra. Presentation of Scientific Results .org 9 Physical Review D reviews in all areas prd. and soft matter physics 9 Physical Review B prb.

aip.org J. F.aip. Presentation of Scientific Results . Applied Physics Series 9 Journal of Applied Physics jap.org 9 Applied Physics Letters apl.

edpsciences.edpsciences.org/epjab 9 Europhysics Letters condensed matter www. Presentation of Scientific Results .edpsciences.org/epjd atoms.edpsciences. and clusters J. molecules.org/epja www.edpsciences.org/epjc particles and fields 9 EPJ D www. F.edpsciences.org/epl 9 EPJ C all areas: breakthroughs www. European Physics Journal Series 9 EPJ A 9 EPJ E www.org/epje hadrons and nuclei soft matter 9 EPJ B www.

Nature and Science Nature Science http://www.nature. F. Presentation of Scientific Results .org J.com http://www.sciencemag.

aip. F. good review articles 9 Scientific American www.physicstoday.com popular science articles 9 American Journal of Physics ojps. Presentation of Scientific Results . Soft-science journals 9 Physics Today www.org/ajp pedagogical physics research articles J.org Institute of Physics.org official journal of APS.sciam. good review articles and reseach news 9 Physics World physicsweb.

Presentation of Scientific Results . F. Impact Factors how much is your article worth? Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) isi6.isiknowledge.com Roughly average citation per article J.

397 J. 4. E 2. Rev.207 Phys. Phys.672 Adv. Phys.281 EPJ E 2.327 Phys.358 physics journals Appl. Appl. B 3. Nature 30. Lett. Mod. Phys. Rev. F. 23.956 Rev.848 Phys.432 Science 28. 2.523 Nucl. Today 5.409 Phys. C 2. Rev.952 Phys. 7. B 5. D 4.741 J.645 Phys.986 Phys. Rep.188 EPJ B 1. 13. Phys. Rev. A 2. 12.000 ISI 2002 impact factors of selected Phys. Phys. Presentation of Scientific Results . Rev. Rev. Lett.

Presentation of Scientific Results .desy.com SPIRES HEP reference search: www-library. Citations how much is your article really worth? isi6. F.isiknowledge.de/spires/hep/ J.

F.arxiv. Presentation of Scientific Results . fast.lanl.org xxx. Preprint Archives free. referee free www.org J.

STRUCTURE OF A PHYSICS ARTICLE J. F. Presentation of Scientific Results .

Short letters
PRL, APL, rapid communications, …
1-4 pages

ƒ Title
ƒ Abstract
ƒ Homogeneous body includes introduction
and acknowledgments
ƒ 0-4 figures
ƒ At most paragraph titles

J. F. Presentation of Scientific Results

Regular articles
4-500 pages

ƒ Title
ƒ Abstract
ƒ Introduction
ƒ Body sections
ƒ Conclusions/Summary
ƒ Acknowledgments
ƒ References
ƒ Appendices

J. F. Presentation of Scientific Results

Title
informative, catchy, concise

Semicolons?
Why not, if it helps, though some consider
them bad taste.

J. F. Presentation of Scientific Results

though in longer abstracts an occasional active assertion may be enlivening. One cannot read all the papers in each issue of PRL. Presentation of Scientific Results . Abstract concise. formulas showing basic trends). Abstracts should state major findings. even some specifics (numbers. informative Passive or active voice? I prefer passive. F. J. Abstracts are now more important than ever due to the increasing large number of articles. not even in ones own field. direct.

Presentation of Scientific Results . F.examples J.

in plain language ƒ State major achievements/limitations ƒ State techniques/methods ƒ Describe organization of the paper J. Presentation of Scientific Results . F. Introduction ƒ Give the first impression about the paper ƒ Place the work into broader context ƒ Relate to other relevant research ƒ Say why is the work important.

J. Presentation of Scientific Results . F.

Body of the paper Describe your findings in an organized. structured. and logical way •Think about the organization ahead of actual writing •Create informative headings helping easy orientation J. Presentation of Scientific Results . F.

Conclusions ƒ Give your article closure ƒ Summary of major results ƒ Prospects for future extensions ƒ Possible applications. F. relevance to other works. fields J. Presentation of Scientific Results .

F. Presentation of Scientific Results .Conclusions example J.

tables. references J. figures. F. equations. Presentation of Scientific Results . LaTeX 101 text.

ctan.org/ctan/ J.org/ REVTeX 4 To compile Phys. Rev. LaTex http://www.org/revtex4/ TeX archive network http://www.latex-project. Presentation of Scientific Results .aps. F. Style documents http://publish.

Compiling LaTex ƒ latex paper.tex % compile yet again ƒ dvips paper.ps file J.dvi % create a .tex % compile again ƒ latex paper.tex % compile the file ƒ bibtex paper.bib) exists ƒ latex paper. Presentation of Scientific Results .tex % compile references (if.ps % view the .ps file ƒ gv paper. F.

F. \end{abstract}\maketitle J. 8010 Graz. Washington DC} \begin{abstract} A LateX template is provided to generate physics papers fast and easy. Universit\"atsplatz 5. Austria} \author{Albert Newton} \affiliation{Center for extraterrestrial research. template for PRL \documentclass[aps. Karl-Franzens University.footinbib]{revtex4} \usepackage{epsfig} \begin{document} \title{Template} \author{Jaroslav Fabian} \affiliation{Institute for Theoretical Physics. Presentation of Scientific Results .floatfix.twocolumn.prl.

inserting figures \begin{figure} \centerline{\psfig{file=fig. Presentation of Scientific Results . F.eps. Put your caption here} \label{fig:1} \end{figure} J. width=1\linewidth}} \caption{Template figure.

be}\cosh(w_b/L_{nb})s_{0b}\exp(qV_{be}/k_BT)dq. \\ b&=&\log(x). \end{eqnarray} J. F. This is how single equations are written between lines: \begin{equation} \delta s=\int_0^1 \gamma_{2. Presentation of Scientific Results . Symbol \$ separates the math format. \end{equation} This is how multiple equations are written: \begin{eqnarray} \label{eq:2} a&=&\sum_{i=1}^{\infty}. writing equations To place equations in line write $s_x=a+b$.

F. Presentation of Scientific Results . J. \cite{Newton2000:PRL}. Our work is published in Ref. \ref{sec:Intro}. The details are shown In Fig. \ref{fig:1}. sections \section{\label{sec:Intro} Introduction} In this section … \section{\label{sec:model} Model} We discuss the model introduced in Sec.

volume = “00". Rev. author = “I. year = “2000". Lett. Newton". references \bibliographystyle{apsrev} \bibliography{references} Separate file reference. F. title = “On falling apples". Presentation of Scientific Results . pages = “1-5" } J.bib contains references in the following format: @Article{Newton2000:PRL. journal= “Phys.".

Presentation of Scientific Results . F. finish \end{document} J.

HINTS FOR EFFECTIVE WRITING something about style J. F. Presentation of Scientific Results .

“an”. and the worst of all. Beware of my grammar hints. Presentation of Scientific Results . “a”. I feel absolved by being a Slavic language (read: article-free) native speaker. I am especially offensive to the articles (“the”. disclaimer I am not a native English speaker and I am not a creative-writing professional. J. “…”). F. I claim no responsibility to the damage inflicted on students by following my advice too closely and producing unintelligible and grammar offensive research articles. based on my own experiences and on reading inspiring literature. none. Everything that follows should be taken as my best attempt to teach my students intricacies and idiosyncrasies of physics writing.

Leighton. unless you can emulate their physics. Presentation of Scientific Results . Weinberg: Relativity and Cosmology •Feynman. Hint 1 Pick a published paper you like and try to emulate its structure and style Learn from eminent physics writers Some of my favorite physics writings are: •S. Sands: Feynman Lectures in Physics •Landau and Lifschitz: Course in Theoretical Physics (*) (*)Iwould not recommend emulating the style of L&L in research papers. F. J.

be clear ƒ Distance yourself from the writing to see it unbiased ƒ Logic must flow ƒ Ask a colleague if in doubt that writing may be incomprehensible useful point: Do not write “The energy increases with pressure”. since one can often mean the opposite (“At low fields the rate decreases” can mean that the rate increases with decreasing fields. but one never knows. but “The energy increases with increasing pressure”.) J. Hint 2 Understand what you write. F. Presentation of Scientific Results . to be clear.

F. Hint 3 structuring into ideas = structuring into paragraphs ƒ Place clue sentences in the beginning ƒ Read the paragraph and rewrite it if the logic does not flow J. Presentation of Scientific Results .

F...) ƒ Be concise. and direct ƒ Stay focused J. precise. Hint 4 Write in active voice I show that the process occurs These results show that ... (NO: It is shown by these results that . Presentation of Scientific Results .

if you describe an experiment in the past sense. some may get confused. F. Each microstate is defined by …” Either pick microstate or configuration. Presentation of Scientific Results . J. Hint 5 Be consistent If there is an allowed ambiguity. do not switch randomly to the present one. For example. Similarly with grammar. stick to your choice throughout the paper: For example: “We take five configurations for the macrostate.

F. Hint 6 No offense Avoid if possible words like ƒ Clearly ƒ Obviously ƒ As is well known ƒ Of course J. Presentation of Scientific Results .

Hint 7 Read the guidelines ƒ Early in your professional life read the guidelines for authors to the journal you write for. Presentation of Scientific Results . Adhere to the most relevant points in future writings. J. F.

Hint 8 Do not overdo ƒ Footnotes ƒ In-line equations ƒ References ƒ Figures ƒ Latin phrases ƒ Acronyms J. F. Presentation of Scientific Results .

and references that you refer to ƒ Carefully define every term in equations ƒ Define all the lines and symbols in figures ƒ Each figure and table comes with a caption ƒ Number all equations ƒ All nontrivial statements should be explained or referenced J. figures. Presentation of Scientific Results . F. Hint 9 referring ƒ Include only equations. tables.

There is little chance you will improve anything. F. J. or if you are revising 10th time. Presentation of Scientific Results . Hint 10 Revise 5-10 times ƒ Spell check ƒ Grammar check ƒ Check for flow ƒ Shorten ƒ Give the paper to a colleague for opinion ƒ Stop revising after a revision eliminates a previous revision.

I know of terribly written articles that are cited 500 and more times. it is the idea that you present. that will be remembered. Final hint Do not put too much emphasis on writing. F. J. Presentation of Scientific Results . In the end. An average paper is cited perhaps 4 times. and not the form of the presentation. It is a tool to communicate your research. no less and no more. and read perhaps 7 (4 plus 2 referees plus 1 random reader) times. You need to balance your time.

if inviting the reader to join the discussion: If we substitute A for B or If one substitutes A for B J. it diffuses responsibility ƒ There can still be we. Single authors: I or we? ƒ I prefer I when addressing work done by myself: I show that … ƒ Using we is more formal and authoritative. Presentation of Scientific Results . F.

html J. Presentation of Scientific Results .Hints for effective writing à la Barbara Goss Levi (*) (*) http://www.att.com/kbl/APS/dec97/rules. F.research.

the fact that . Combine writing with inspiring reading (emulate the style of your favorite writing) 3. Get rid of superfluous words (there is …. Presentation of Scientific Results .. F.. Practice writing short summaries of longer articles (get the message out) 2.1.) J.

Presentation of Scientific Results . Good writing is clear thinking J. Define your terms 6. F. Rewrite if it is not clear 5.4.

SUBMIT & FIGHT J. Presentation of Scientific Results . F.

The manuscript considers the important problem of cats with a jelly spread on their back. The importance of our work as well as far reaching consequences of our discovery justify our manuscript to be considered for publication in Physical Review Letters. Boltzmann (Graz). Landau (Charkov) J. We have discovered that cats do not fall. Einstein Suggested referees: N. We are now pondering about what happens to the cats when they are entangled. by E. Einstein. We submit a manuscript entitled „Falling cats with jelly on the back: stable equilibrium versus instinct“. Schroedinger and A. F. and observed in their fall. Shroedinger A. for publication in Physical Review Letters. L. E. L. Below we suggest physicists who should be qualified to referee our work. Presentation of Scientific Results . Instead. Submission letter Dear Editor. Sincerely. Our conclusions have far reaching consequences for both physics and biology. Bohr (Copenhagen). The cats are left to fall free from a height of at least 50 cm. they hover indefinitely.

Presentation of Scientific Results . we judge that the work does not meet the special criteria of importance and broad interest required for Physical Review Letters. Schroedinger and A. Referee reports Re: Falling cats with jelly . On the basis of the enclosed critique.. Yours sincerely.. We also wish to emphasize that we take strong stance on the animal rights issue and we do not endorse experimenting with live animals. Referee reports J. By: E. Einstein Dear Dr. E. with our without jelly on their backs. Rutherford Senior Editor encl. F. Schroedinger: The above manuscript has been reviewed by our referee(s).

but cruel. F. The treatment is sound. The authors have failed to separate the effects of depression from those of mechanical rotation and biological instincts. Therefore I do not recommend the paper for publication in Physical Review Letters in the present form. J. As is known from the work of C. Referee A This paper presents an experimental treatment of combined effects of mechanical rotation and animal instincts. Presentation of Scientific Results . depressed cats tend to hover in the air. Darwin. I question the conclusions of the manuscript on the basis that the authors used only 1 cat which must have felt depressed about being thrown repeatedly from the Physics Department windows. although the subject itself is of great importance.

Presentation of Scientific Results . Einstein who tends to be off at times). the results clearly stated. The paper is well written. F. or should be published in the „American Journal of Falling Cats“? I opt for the latter. Referee B The group of E. The only question I have is whether the work is suitable for Physical Review Letters. as I have myself pondered about such things. The subject is definitely of broad interest. J. Schroedinger publishes reliable and interesting results (though I have some doubts about Dr.

Einstein.“ Referee B claims that the paper is well written and of broad interest. Shroedinger A. Sincerely. Einstein J. We address the few minor critical points in the enclosed response to the referees. by E: Schroedinger and A. Referee A says „The treatment is sound. for publication in Physical Review Letters. Since we have addressed ALL the referee comments.is of great importance. We resubmit our mansucript entitled „Falling cats with jelly on the back: stable equilbrium versus instinct“. and in fact supporting publication in your journal.. and since the comments themselves can be interpreted as positive. E.. Resubmission letter Dear Editor.. we strongly request that you publish our manuscript without further delay. F. Presentation of Scientific Results .. We consider the criticism of the referees well meant.“ and „.

Probably from an overdose of Prozac. We were not aware of the important research of C. Darwin on falling depressed cats. Response to the referees Response to referee A: We thank the referee for his or her thoughtful comments and for carefully reading our manuscript. AJFC seems to publish only very technical papers on the subject. Unfortunately. we have put the cat on an antidepressant (Whiskas Prozac) and let it fall several times again. F. We strongly believe that PRL is the most suitable journal for publishing our work. and so not wanting to really fall down. J. the poor cat has died. Response to referee B: We appreciate the referee‘s well thought comments and for suggesting an alternative journal for our manuscript. We have looked at several recent issues of AJFC to see if indeed this would be the appropriate place for our cat. We are happy to report that our original results stay unchanged. Taking into consideration that our cat could have indeed been depressed by both falling down so often and having jelly on the back. with little emphasis on the physics involved. Presentation of Scientific Results . Unfortunately.

. E. Yours sincerely. Rutherford Senior Editor J. Schroedinger: We are pleased to inform you that the above manuscript has been accepted for publication. By: E. Schroedinger and A. F. You are requested to make a payment of $1000 toward the cost of disseminating your research results..Acceptance (rejection) letter Re: Falling cats with jelly . Presentation of Scientific Results . Einstein Dear Dr.