I just started my freshman year of high school, and one of the electives I'm taking is a year long research project where we can choose any topic, do an experiment, and write a paper about it. I chose to do a research project with mathematics, specifically a really cool subject called class field theory.
I understand the topic, most of the current papers and literature I've read on it, and I have done an experiment on a certain cause/effect. The problem now is to analyze the data I've gotten and write a paper. It looks really promising, but I will occasionally have questions on certain topics that are really hard to research online. For this, I usually try to contact a researcher who is knowledgeable in the subject I'm researching and just ask if they would be interested in giving some of their time to answer some of my questions.
For example, the way I structured my last email (that spurred this question):
Hello Dr. *****,
My name is *****. I'm 14, and I live in South Carolina. Recently, we were assigned a year-long research project, which I chose to do on Hilbert class fields of global function fields. In one area of my research, I encountered a problem with [short, general topic of problem].
I see that you have taught a lecture on class field theory (including Hilbert and ray class fields). I have studied the lecture notes and it has given me a lot of clarification, but I still have a few questions that I feel most of the resources out there do not address.
I've also read some of your work and it seems right up my alley. I appreciate your concise yet poignant and very understandable way of explaining things. I was wondering if perhaps we could start a short correspondence to help me understand what I'm writing about, and to gain more knowledge of class field theory.
With gratitude, ****
The response I got to this, and unfortunately to the majority of responses I get to similar emails, is condescending in tone and treated me as a child. Of course, I understand this, as I am a child, but in this specific area I would not like to be treated as one. I tried to just not tell my age, and I got much more enthusiastic reactions, but what was suggested to me was to "talk to my advisor" or cited other resources that are not available to me as a highschool student.
Is there something I'm doing wrong in my emails? I've never been part of the whole "academia culture", so this is just me trying my best to sound professional. In any case, what can I include in my correspondence or generally do to be respected as a young researcher?