Now, I am working on a joint paper with some collaborators. The research is about mathematics. This is my first experience of working in collaboration.

Another author has sent a manuscript about our work. The manuscript is about 40 pages. When I checked some part of the manuscript, it takes a lot of time to read the content and unfortunately, there are a lot of gaps and mathematical mistakes in it. In addition, there are also many typos buried inside the manuscript.

Although, I can fix some part and adding some details and proof, I still do not understand about 50% of the manuscript. I have to mention that we can communicate via email only.

The following are my questions:

  1. How do you manage to work collaboratively in research?

  2. How do you detect the mistake and fixing it quickly?

  3. When should we keep trying to understand and fixing the argument or rather asking the explanation directly to the collaborators? Is 4 days-checking without asking question too short?

  4. How to judge``grey part", like simpler proof, simplified definition, notation, sentences, etc?

Thank you for your advice.

  • Welcome to the site! Actually, this is three questions in one and as such not well suited for this site. I recommend that you take some time to explore the site (if you haven't done so) as there are several questions here already that address several aspects of you question, e.g. Q1. Q2 seems very specific your particular situation, and would probably not be a good fit here. Also Q3 does not strike me as a good fit as there is no universal answer here and an answer would very much depend on the situation. I do not understand Q4.
    – Dirk
    Sep 15, 2016 at 2:24
  • @Dirk Could you give me the link of several questions here already that address several aspects of my question?
    – tes tes
    Sep 15, 2016 at 2:26
  • 3
    Sure: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/71547/…, already a duplicate of academia.stackexchange.com/questions/6035/… and (but this is somehow different). Also academia.stackexchange.com/questions/40881/… is relevant.
    – Dirk
    Sep 15, 2016 at 2:34

2 Answers 2


Unless there's some special reason to fear that your responses will bother the collaborator, you should make one pass through the paper for mistakes with English, one pass through to fix and clarify math things where you can already see what's wrong and how to fix it (for these first two steps, you are working in Track Changes), and one pass through writing Comments in the side margin, asking the collaborator to clarify or rework things. At this first stage, your comments can be brief, and you need not address every single flaw or unclear bit. Towards the end you can make more of an effort to make sure you didn't miss any problems.

Write down your responses to a draft. Take a break to do something else. Come back and proofread your responses. Send. In other words, do proofread your response, but only once -- don't agonize.

  • 1
    This seems to presuppose that Word is used for typesetting; Latex (and the like) is much more commonly used in mathematics. Though perhaps there is some markup/comments facility for Latex that I'm not familiar with. Sep 15, 2016 at 12:44
  • @ShaneORourke - Yes, I was using MS Word as an example, to give the OP an idea of a sequence of steps with some structure to reduce the going-around-and-around or agonizing I was getting from item 3. Sep 15, 2016 at 13:32
  • For specific software recommendations, there is a special stackexchange site: softwarerecs.stackexchange.com Sep 15, 2016 at 13:33

As mentioned before, by other answerers, there is no way to answer this question accurately - it is a matter of taste, and the preference of who you are working with. The best suggestion I think I can give is to use Overleaf

You need to work collaboratively on maths - Overleaf uses LaTex as its back-end, and allows real-time collaboration. Google docs also allows realtime collaboration, but you will likely suffer from formatting issues. Change control is done with git, which means you can also work offline and use git for conflict resolution in the content. You can use either the gui or the command line.

The rest of the questions (2-4) are purely issues of this particular paper, and thus impossible to answer definitively.


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