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I do research in an engineering subject and my journal reviewer has asked me to push every mathematical proof to the appendix to improve the readability. While I feel this is true, I also think that some of the proofs can be retained, as they are short and not so much mathematical. What is your opinion regarding this?

Right now, I have written this

We thank you for your helpful comment. We have moved all the proofs and the lemmas, which even if removed do not directly affect the continuity of reading and is long, to the appendices. Proofs which are not much mathematical in nature and are short are still kept.

Somehow I feel my language is a bit rude. Do you have a better way of putting it? Or should I just move every proof to the appendix? (The journal is almost accepted with only few minor revisions like this)

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Is the appendix published together with the paper? –  Nate Eldredge May 16 at 14:18
    
yes............... –  dineshdileep May 16 at 14:56
    
As a comment, can you put a more mathematical preprint of the paper on the ArXiv and cite it, and include it as supplementary material. I think it's a waste to put these things in an appendix of an engineering journal, because theoreticians may not read the article and engineers might ignore it. Putting the proofs on the ArXiv might be a way of segmenting the market and getting your research out to all interested parties? Check the journal's policies about preprints before you do this of course. –  MHH May 19 at 16:27
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4 Answers 4

In all cases I have been involved, together with the revised manuscript a response letter to the editor is submitted, re-iterating the specific comments/issues of the reviewers and explaining the changes made in the manuscript to address these issues.

What you are describing is typically one of those things that can be explained in the response letter. You can formulate a nice response where you can explain to the editor (who essentially has the last word on whether or not the manuscript will be accepted) that ...

"while we believe that moving some of the mathematical formulas and derivations to the supplementary will improve the readability and flow article, some are indeed essential in order to give the reader a fair chance to understand the assumptions/model/results/..."

There are two major benefits of addressing the situation in this way:

  1. You show that you do not disagree with the reviewer(s). People tend not to complain much when you agree with them.
  2. You show the editor that you take the matter seriously, have put effort into amending the manuscript in order to improve the situation and also put thought into making the paper easier for the reader, while not losing the important bits.

I would discourage you to use formulations where you decide what does and does not count as long, or what does and does not impair readability. I say this mainly because you are not in an objective position to judge these things. You have written the manuscript and to you, at the time of submission, the manuscript (hopefully) is informative and has a good flow. You have been working on the project for months, maybe even years. At the time you pick it up, you have all the necessary background to understand the paper. The reader is far away from that position.

Instead consider picking out things that you feel are absolutely critical, in order to understand the essential bits of the work; that is the motivation, the goals, and the conclusions. Everything else could go into the supplementary...


Lastly, does the journal not have any information on how to handle mathematical calculations/proofs etc, on their guidelines for authors?

Likewise, if you have co-authors what do they think? Your supervisor has some opinions on the matter surely?

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I think you mean "while we believe". –  waiwai933 May 16 at 15:53
    
Your first sentence is not grammatical. Sounds like you left something out. –  Muhd May 16 at 19:05
    
My coauthor more or less expressed the same opinion, but the final call has been left to me. –  dineshdileep May 17 at 6:33
    
The journal guidelines recommends all mathematical proofs shifted to the appendix. –  dineshdileep May 17 at 6:34
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@dineshdileep "The journal guidelines recommends all mathematical proofs shifted to the appendix." Well in that case you have your answer. If you want to publish your article there, then you need to follow their guidelines regardless how you feel about leaving proofs out of the main manuscript. –  posdef May 19 at 7:32
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My take on this is this: The content should be organized in a way to make it most accessible for the readers. While readers are all different, you have chosen an engineering journal and I would presume that the "journal style" of having proofs in the appendix is a good choice for this audience. So my general answer is: Just follow the suggestion in this case.

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Would it not suffice to have just the statements of the results in the paper? The question is whether the audience will be interested in the proofs of the results. For a less mathematical audience, I think moving proofs and calculations into an appendix is Ok, because most of the time they are not so interested in the details. That is what I generally try to do.

If one is not so mathematically inclined, then it can be intimidating to be confronted with lots of mathematical details, and they can interrupt the flow. I suppose that if the proofs are short they don't matter so much, but even then, the question you should ask yourself is how interested your audience would be in reading them.

For a mathematics and statistics paper, I think retaining important calculations and proofs in the body of the paper is standard practice, but even there there is room for moving less important stuff into an appendix.

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Following the reviewer's suggestions, unless it's caused by his/her misunderstanding, is the way I would go. The reviewer would most probably know better than you regarding to the culture (style) of that particular journal. But if you are definitely certain about things you can not push; then explain kindly as a response. I would write, "we definitely agree with the reviewer, and per the reviewer comments, we have moved most of the proofs to the appendices."

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+1. My feeling is that stylistic issues like this are not worth arguing about. In the version for your web page, you can arrange it your way. –  Nate Eldredge May 17 at 0:05
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