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I want to email the author to get the complete paper. He's published a version with proof sketches, but I need the whole proofs. My draft:

Subject : Paper Request

Dr. .....

I've read your paper entitled ............. and would very much like to acquire the complete manuscript.

In case you have not written it yet, I would appreciate it if you could send me the complete proofs of the theorems.

Looking forward for your reply,

Regards,

Do I need to add anything?

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Could you provide some context? Are you a student of this person? How did you get an incomplete copy of a paper, and when would a complete one appear? Where would it appear? What are you going to use it for? Is the author getting paid for the publication of the paper? –  Lauren Ipsum Sep 28 '12 at 17:22
    
@LaurenIpsum No I'm not a student of his. Found it on a journal. I don't know whether it's going to appear or not. I will use it to conduct my research. How would I know if he's getting paid for publishing it? –  saadtaame Sep 28 '12 at 17:29
    
If he's going to be paid for it because it will appear in a publication, he may not want to release a draft copy to some random person who asks for it, for free. I don't know the rules of academic publication so I can't tell you how to determine that other than asking. Also, is your research going to contradict his? Complement it? Compete with it? –  Lauren Ipsum Sep 28 '12 at 19:25
    
@LaurenIpsum No! He proved something. It's a proof; can't disprove that :) I want to generalize his result. Is the e-mail ok? –  saadtaame Sep 28 '12 at 19:28
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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Lauren Ipsum gives a good answer. I'll guess at the purpose of your query and suggest a message along these lines:

Dear Dr. X,

I recently read your paper, Y, and I was very interested in the proofs you sketched. My research is in a related area: (here you describe your research).

Would it be possible for you to send me the complete proofs of the theorems? I would use these proofs to... (here you describe what you'd do).

That is, Dr. X might be planning to do exactly what you'd like to do, so it would be useful to let him or her know what that is. You might suggest that the two of you could collaborate, but that depends to some extent on your current track record (i.e., it would be more attractive for Dr. X if your past work indicates that it would be a fruitful collaboration).

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I don't think this is sufficient. It's polite, but why would this person share anything with you just because you asked?

I think you need to explain who you are, how you found his work, and what you want to do with his work if he's willing to share it with you. Also, if you end up doing something which earns you money from your work which built on his work, are you willing to share that money with him? Perpetually?

I just feel like you're asking a lot and not giving him any reason to say yes.

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It is common practice to mail not-yet-published, unpublished and unaccessible scientific articles to colleagues working in the same field upon request. But to my experience, authors don't just mail out a copy to random strangers.

You must understand, that those articles receive reputation through the peer review process provided by respected journals. These journals are financed through sales of their issues. If authors gave away their research for free, this would cut the money from the journals and in turn destroy the peer review process that scientific reputation relies upon. So it is in their own best interest that authors restrict free copies to rare cases. There are other models for financing, and the situation is currently changing, but propriety is a strong factor when an inquiry such as yours is considered.

Now, who is a deserving recipient of a free copy?

Usually a researcher will be affiliated with some institution that has its own email domain. Usually researchers will use this email domain to send email, when they enquire with colleagues. Thus, any author can easily verify that the inquiry comes from someone actually working in their field (or at least a fellow academic).

I have sent out several requests for papers to authors. I have always explained:

  • where I study/work,
  • what my research interest is,
  • and what I need the article for.

Sometimes I have added an explanation why I could not access the article through the usual means (no university access to the online publication) or that I needed it faster than I could receive it through interlibrary loan. Sometimes the article was not published (such as test manuals or the tests themselves), so an explanation was not necessary.

There were two authors that did not answer me.

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