Manifold Atlas: Instructions for writing

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This page describes the scientific writing style and goals of the Manifold Atlas.

You may also wish to visit the following pages: Editing protocols, Author orientation or User orientation.


1 Scientific style

The best ways to write in the Atlas depends upon the stage of development of a page.

This section describes the general principles which should be in operation at all times while writing in the Atlas.

The next section gives suggestions for writing during the various stages of the evolution of a page.

  • The Manifold Atlas aims to be a reliable scientific reference for researchers and students of manifolds.
    • At all times do your best to make correct statements.
    • If you are unsure about a point, make this clear in the text or consider addressing that point on the discussion page.

Please write rigorously and clearly for a topologically literate audience:

  • i.e. assume that your reader has taken relevant introductory graduate level courses for the area you are covering.

Pages in the Manifolds Chapter, the Questions Chapter and the Bibliography have a canonical suggested structure.

  • Please think carefully before choosing to depart from this structure.

2 The evolution of a page

Lets adopt the metaphor of thinking of a page as a plant.

Our goal is to plant a healthy seed, grow the seed into a flourishing plant and then finally prune the plant so that it is ready for the "front garden": i.e. publication as a static article in the Atlas.

2.1 Starting a page

Your goal in starting a page is to create a useful seed that you or others can then grow.

A healthy seed-page should contain:

  • a non-trivial piece of information (often a definition),
  • a link and/or a reference.

Here is a sample seed-page.

  • A seed page may also contain lists of key words which could also appear in the form of open links.
  • Hopefully starting a page is something one can do with 15 minutes to an hour of time.

2.2 Growing a page

Once a page is well planted you can begin to grow it.

There is only one strict rule to recall during page development which we mentioned above but repeat here. At all times:

  • please do your best to ensure that Atlas pages contain correct information and
  • please do your best to give references or justification for the information you add to the Atlas.

With regard to the second point, please note that correctly formulated open references are adequate references in the development phase of page growth.

2.3 Pruning a page

The aim of the Atlas is to publish its pages by submitting them for evaluation by the editorial board.

  • If you are working at the final stage of a page, please read the criteria for maturity.
    • Please give proofs or references to peer-reviewed journals for all non-elementary statements.
    • You may consider uploading PDF files to give the details of proof without making the web-page too long.
    • Please carry out a literature search to ensure that the relevant literature is correctly referenced.

2.4 Refereeing pages

All pages which have not been refereed bear the Stub template indicating that they are under development.

  • After a page reaches maturity, the editorial board will organise for it to be refereed: you can read about the editorial process here.

3 (Hyper)links

A well-written article will find a good balance between the following extremes:

  • too few links and your document is somewhat of a dead-end,
  • too many links make texts hard to read and can distract the reader.

Here are two guideslines for using hyperlinks:

  • you can use links to both define and emphasise key concepts,
  • you only need to link a given page once per page or section, unless emphasis is sought,

Note that open links, appearing in red, can be useful:

  • e.g. open links can indicate pages you think should exist but don't right now.

For ease of writing on your first draft, simply write your link as [[intended link]]:

  • later on you, or other users, can fill in the links to make them active but
  • but please endeavor to return and fill in open links in a timely fashion.

3.1 Linking to Wikipedia and other web resources

Wikipedia and other web resources already contain a great wealth of mathematical information and there is no point in duplicating this content in the Atlas.

  • Atlas articles will differ from Wikipedia articles in that they assume a higher level of mathematical background and will typically discuss manifolds in greater depth and with greater precision than Wikipedia.
  • A good heuristic for linking to the web is the following:
    • use links to Wikipedia and other external web-sites define terms and concepts, assuming the definition there is adequate, but,
    • do not use Wikipedia as a reference: refer to peer-reviewed mathematical literature.

We hope that there will be a positive synergy between Wikipedia and the Atlas:

  • Atlas authors may wish to improve and add to Wikipedia articles to define the terms they use,
  • hopefully in time, Wikipedia can link and refer to articles in the Atlas.
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