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November 27, 2007

Rejecta Mathematica

Posted by John Baez

Sick of getting your papers rejected?

Tired of useless arguments with referees, like this?

In conclusion, although a good paper of this kind would be interesting, I don’t believe that the present manuscript meets the required standards for acceptance in the Journal.

You are right here. It is way too good for it! I kick myself for being nice and submitting this paper to your narrow-minded pretentious journal! It won’t happen again.

Then publish your rejected papers in Rejecta Mathematica!

I have four questions:

  • Has anyone actually submitted anything to Rejecta Mathematica?
  • How will it look to have such publications on your resumé?
  • What is the impact factor of this journal?
  • A little quiz question: who actually wrote the letter I quoted above? Guess, then use Google to find out.

(A tip of the hat to Blake Stacey for putting Rejecta Mathematica on Eureka, and to Count Iblis for pointing me toward the letter quoted above.)

Posted at November 27, 2007 3:14 AM UTC

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Impact Factor

At least one of your questions is answered in their FAQ: the impact factor is currently zero.

Posted by: Jeffrey Morton on November 27, 2007 5:29 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Rejecta Mathematica

The tone of the letter sounds somewhat Langian, but I have a hard time hearing him say “pretentious”. There’s also no swearing and it doesn’t end in a scream of “Jesus!”

Posted by: John Armstrong on November 27, 2007 6:02 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Rejecta Mathematica

This is a potentially a great idea and the editors has done a great job to even set up this website!

It’s clear that papers appearing in their sections “mapping the blind alleys of science” and “reinventing the wheel” could be interesting (not sure about the other sections…). I guess it happened to everyone during a career to reinvent known things or find that something isn’t working after all for some subtle reasons, but there were no place to tell others up to know (except maybe in an appendix in a book or on a homepage, but with far less readership).

I hope some respectable folks will submit some serious stuff there even if somewhat old. For example this paper of Stallings (UC Berkeley) on how not to prove the Poincaré Conjecture is what came to my mind as a nice example of such papers. There are probably many more out there or in dusty drawers.

Posted by: Gaspard on November 27, 2007 12:19 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Rejecta Mathematica

That paper of Stallings (one-time roomate of mine at PU) came to mind immediately.

Posted by: jim stasheff on November 27, 2007 2:27 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Rejecta Mathematica

Another nice paper is by Wilfrid Hodges, on how not to refute Cantor’s Theorem on the non-countability of the reals, based on the many submissions claiming to do so that he received as editor of BSL.

I once had to review a conference paper claiming to refute Cantor, which amazingly cited Hodges’ paper in its own support! The author of the paper I was reviewing claimed that his argument against Cantor was valid because he used an approach not dismissed by Hodges!


author = “Wilfrid Hodges”,
title = “An editor recalls some hopeless papers”,
journal = “Bulletin of Symbolic Logic”,
year = “1998”,
volume = “4”,
number = “1”,
pages = “1–16”}

Posted by: Peter on November 28, 2007 10:54 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Rejecta Mathematica

Isabel (of God Plays Dice fame) asks the question, “isn’t this what, say, blogs are for?” Perhaps having a journal of “things you’d otherwise post in a blog” might save mathematicians the trouble of maintaining their own blog, and perhaps publication in such a journal would look better on your CV (guest posts at the n-Category Café don’t count towards tenure, do they?). However, if Rej. Math. doesn’t have a very good review process of its own, I doubt one’s colleagues would care about publication in it.

Posted by: Blake Stacey on November 27, 2007 3:20 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Rejecta Mathematica

Why not just use arxiv?

Posted by: e on November 27, 2007 5:42 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Rejecta Mathematica

Good point: more people will read your paper that way, and nobody need know it’s been rejected. So, Rejecta Mathematica will remain a fringe curiosity — especially given its name, which automatically discourages people from publishing there.

As for me, I publish all my rejected papers in the Antarctica Journal of Mathematics.

Posted by: John Baez on November 27, 2007 6:06 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Rejecta Mathematica

Even the penguins are outsourcing to India now?

Posted by: Richard on November 28, 2007 3:04 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Rejecta Mathematica

Cool! I’ve just submitted a paper formally to Rejecta Mathematica.

Posted by: Kea on November 27, 2007 10:37 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Rejecta Mathematica

The quote must be from one of Doron Zeilberger’s rants!

Posted by: Ionica on November 27, 2007 11:21 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Rejecta Mathematica

Yup! Found it (look toward the end).

Posted by: Todd Trimble on November 28, 2007 12:27 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Rejecta Mathematica

I love the URL. For those unfamiliar with the language, “Tipesh” mean ‘stupid’ in Hebrew.

Posted by: Jacques Distler on November 28, 2007 3:53 AM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

Use of arXiv considered harmful; Re: Rejecta Mathematica

Mind you, I’ve had many papers rejected. But the average editor or referee has had something constructive to say, which makes my next paper, on average, slightly better.

When entangled referees fight with each other, or the editor, there’s even more to be gained.

Another reason why referees can be useful, and arXiv dangerous, is that any normal referee would have told the author:

“The scientist in question has the last name Hooke, not Hook. Fix the 7 of those on pp.22-23, and then we’ll talk about the substance of the paper. Meanwhile, I suggest not sending it to arXiv.”

arXiv:0711.4507 [pdf]
Title: The Second Law as a Cause of the Evolution
Authors: Oded Kafri
Comments: 30 pages, 3 figures
Subjects: Information Theory (cs.IT); Artificial Intelligence (cs.AI)

It is a common belief that in any environment where life is possible, life will be generated. Here it is suggested that the cause for a spontaneous generation of complex systems is probability driven processes. Based on equilibrium thermodynamics, it is argued that in low occupation number statistical systems, the second law of thermodynamics yields an increase of thermal entropy and a canonic energy distribution. However, in high occupation number statistical systems, the same law for the same reasons yields an increase of information and a Benford’s law/power-law energy distribution. It is therefore, plausible, that eventually the heat death is not necessarily the end of the universe.

By the way, I first read Rudy Rucker in a magazine called Unearth, which required the authors to have been previously unpublished. A science fiction anthology of rejected stories by subsequently successful authors, with prefaces to each story, might be very useful to the novice author.

The Writers of the Future anthology also limits the number of prior sales and author can have made.

And stories about the end of the universe are fun.

Posted by: Jonathan Vos Post on November 29, 2007 4:11 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Use of arXiv considered harmful; Re: Rejecta Mathematica

This is more about the kind of correctness issue than the particular paper Jonathan was talking about (which may well completely lack any merit).

This is something that’s always confused me about arXiv: it’s supposedly a preprint server, where a preprint may contain issues that would be altered during the reviewed submission process. One of the advantages of encouraging a “not too uptight” preprint process is that, given the delay in publishing, people who aren’t at a top-reputation institution tend to be more behind the curve in that the key researchers will generally describe work they’ve just submitted (but which won’t be publicly visible for quite a while) in invited talks they give at the top institutions but they don’t generally visit the less prestigious places. However, it seems like arxiv has morphed into being also a convenient long-term electronic archive and a counterbalance to high-priced journals without explicit thought about whether all three purposes are compatible.

I’m not suggesting that work that is wrong (even in a
non-immediately-obvious way) should be able to be placed (or maybe that should be “to remain”) there, and the tendency to use arxiv as an end-run around reviewers is obviously problematic. I guess the really tricky question is quite how you get primarily papers with a high likelihood of correctness without also stopping it being an “attractive” place to use as a recent developments preprint server.

Posted by: dave tweed on December 14, 2007 9:01 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Rejecta Mathematica

I was just recently told that the folks over in biomedicine have a Journal of Negative Results. They advertise themselves as covering “all aspects of unexpected, controversial, provocative and/or negative results/conclusions in the context of current tenets, providing scientists and physicians with responsible and balanced information to support informed experimental and clinical decisions.”

They’re open-access, too.

Posted by: Blake Stacey on December 4, 2007 7:08 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Rejecta Mathematica

The low quality correspondence with referees is in fact public. I mean the referee has no right to disclose it, as the paper which is submitted is secret before published and so on. But the submitter of the papaer, in my experience, never signs any secrecy as of the correspondence with the journal.

Which journals have the interest IN MAINTAINING THEIR QUALITY IN REFEREEING by EXPLICITLY adhereing to policy of having NO OBJECTIONS to the right of author to publicly publish complete corrrespondence in the refereeing process, regardless of whether it is favorable or unfavorable to any party involved? This will e.g. single out those editors who neglect serious observations of referees uncareful/erroneous statements etc. and the journals who flourish by advertising a quick reviewing process with the expense of allowing incomplete and erroneous reviews, either positive or negative.

Posted by: Zoran Skoda on December 13, 2007 11:31 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Rejecta Mathematica

if rejecta mathematica accepts rejected papers then why does it reject others?

Posted by: jose on March 30, 2012 7:31 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

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