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I am a PhD student in pure mathematics from a lower-developed or developing country in the Asia region. I have two published articles in average-category peer-reviewed journals (one is in the Q2 category and the other is in the Q4 category, Scimago ranking). I have other preprints. These are some details about me.

Now I have worked on an interesting problem (few famous mathematicians worked in this area). I would like to evaluate my single-author research paper in some top-category mathematics journals like IMRN, Proceeding of AMS, Journal of AMS, Math. Annales, Pacific Journal, Advance in Math, etc.

I just want to evaluate my paper in a proper review. However, the editorial board in general filters some papers before allowing a proper refereeing process. This is where I have some questions.

Does an editor become skeptical when the author of a paper is a PhD student, compared to an established mathematician?

Does the editor look at the profile and publication quality of the author and decide whether to pass the paper for review?

Because it is difficult for an editor in half an hour to fully judge the paper quality. In such cases, can a PhD student's paper get less priority to them ?

I would appreciate to share your ideas regarding it. I hope many editors in mathematics are here.

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    Normally, a paper is judged on its merits, not on author's credentials. By the way, journals on your list are of very different quality. For instance, it is very hard to get published in JAMS, which is in the top 5 journal list in the entire math. It is much easier to get published in the Pacific Math Journal. Oct 9, 2023 at 17:14
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    My guess is one thing they look at that is tough to get through is the style and quality of writing. E.g. the results may be great and correct, but if the exposition doesn't meet top quality, and maybe the floor of the paper is not expert author level, then you have a hurdle. I think this is an often hidden fact. The "merits" of the paper don't just mean the merits of the theorems themselves. The presentation style and it's myriad facture are very important.
    – jdods
    Oct 10, 2023 at 2:47
  • @jdods, "I think this is an often hidden fact". I also think so. Thanks
    – learner
    Oct 10, 2023 at 2:49

3 Answers 3

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Your premise is wrong when you say "Because it is difficult for an editor in half an hour to fully judge the paper quality." As an editor-in-chief of a Q1 journal, I see a lot of papers and I can tell within 5 minutes whether a paper is likely good, and within 10 minutes whether it is likely bad. I reject a lot of papers without sending them out without review because it is obvious that the paper would not stand a chance in peer review. In all of these cases, all I typically see is that the paper was authored by "John Doe", but I do not look up who that is and what stage in their career they are in: The paper speaks for itself.

There is a substantial gray area between good and bad, where a paper will benefit substantially from getting feedback from reviewers. But the poor papers are generally quite easy to detect, and I don't need to look at who wrote it to make that decision.

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    Considering your desk rejected papers, especially those with a quick assessment, how many tend to be due to poor exposition, style, or poor paper structure? And otherwise the actual content appears correct. My experience indicates that writing style and quality is of utmost importance, especially in top journals.
    – jdods
    Oct 10, 2023 at 4:15
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    @jdods Most poor papers are poor in multiple respects. Some are well written but present material that is at or barely above the topics discussed in standard text books -- that is, there is no novelty, nobody would care about these papers even if they are technically "correct". Correctness is not what gets a paper published. Oct 10, 2023 at 14:28
  • Thank you for the insight. I know this is not a discussion forum, but I'll make another comment/question. I am most interested in desk rejection of real novel research results that will be of reasonably wide interest due to the presentation style not meeting the expectations of the editorial team, or maybe the editor has trouble figuring out what is truly novel about the work---this latter point seems strange to me, since a research paper implies the author claims the results are new. Have you experienced that in your own editorial work? Thanks for any insight.
    – jdods
    Oct 10, 2023 at 16:19
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    @jdods I'm sure such papers have come across my desk, but I do not regularly desk-reject papers because of poor presentation. I do send papers back to the authors for revision in some cases before giving them to the associate editors to send out for review. But it does not happen very often that a paper is on genuinely novel stuff but so poorly written that it cannot stand on its own. This is not the usual case why papers get rejected outright; the usual case why papers get rejected outright is because they do not show anything of interest (and are perhaps also poorly written). Oct 10, 2023 at 20:58
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I can't speak for everyone, of course, but knowing mathematics and mathematicians, I'd suspect that in almost all cases, if not all, the editor will be much more interested in the mathematics than in any other such considerations.

If the problem is known and there aren't obvious errors, I'd guess you get the same hearing that anyone would. But only by submitting to some appropriate journal will you know for sure. And the rule is submit to only one journal at a time, which I suspect you already know.

If there are any issues, I'd worry more about the quality of the writing and the clarity of the arguments you may. A novice, such as a doctoral student might have a bit more trouble with that than an experienced person, so pay attention to your writing. Have a colleague read what you write if possible. A professor might have advice about the best venue.

Mathematicians are, perhaps, a bit weird in their focus on the math. Go figure.

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    Thank you. Yes, ofcourse at a time submit only in one Journal. I just mentioned the list to ask the question.
    – learner
    Oct 10, 2023 at 0:51
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For the record: I am a pure mathematician, I have served on editorial boards of three journals (on one, as a managing editor), currently I am on just one editorial board. All three journals are top specialized journals in the respective subfields.

In all my editorial experience, the issue of academic seniority of the author or the country of origin have never came up: neither in my decision-making nor during discussion of the editorial boards. Acceptance and rejection decision (including desk-rejection) is always made on the merits of the paper (and sometimes there were disagreements on these matters). After receiving a submission, as an editor I quickly look through it. If I cannot make my own determination whether a paper should be refereed, I ask for a quick expert opinion.

The journals you have mentioned are general-interest math journals, but I do not expect the decision process there to be any different.

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