It strikes me as a real structural problem of the mathematics community that math papers are on the whole simply not very well proof-read. Many papers, sometimes very important ones, are often full of errors, in large part because it is simply a very time-confusing and difficult task to check a math paper for errors. On a more general level, I think most math papers could use a good once over by a talented editor who also understands the mathematics. Too bad such people are in short supply, and generally have better things to do.
I’ll confess that proofreading is sometimes a bit of a problem for me, probably more so than for some more detail-oriented people. While there’s been quite a range in the number of errors found by the referee, I’ve gotten a couple of reports on papers I’ve submitted that found quite a few errors, and in fact, I received just such a report (for my paper with Geordie Williamson) just yesterday.
What’s most dispiriting about such a report is that it’s not as though I didn’t proofread the paper, more than once (as did Geordie, and at least one other mathematician). I just went right over a number of errors that become glaring when the referee pointed them out. And while it’s generally pretty easy to fix whatever the referee actually points out, one knows that there are yet more errors hiding in there (especially in this case, where the referee indicates that they lost patience, and didn’t carefully proofread the whole paper), and it seems hopeless to think you will catch all of them.
Does anyone have recommendations other than Ritalin? Of course, it would be best if one could dispatch a horde of
flying monkeys blog readers to proofread one’s papers for one, but that doesn’t seem like a sustainable plan (not that I wouldn’t appreciate any comments readers have on the paper. It’s on my webpage here. Don’t look at the arXived version. That’s out of date).