Academics - Question re: Professional Etiquette in asking for help/support

(5 Posts)
rosypips Mon 22-Jul-13 11:22:12

Hello all. I found a brilliant thread in chat the other day and now for the life of me can't find it again. So I am posting here in case any of you academics are about (and thanks to any who are who replied to my post in chat). Anyway, another question.

If you used to work at the same institution as your co-author and now don't, is it still appropriate to ask a senior professor at that institution for comments on a paper? Basically, my (senior) co-author often asks me to contact professors at her institution (my old one, where incidentally they didn't give me a job, not bitter, honest) to comment on papers we are writing together. When I do, they invariably simply ignore the email totally. And I end up feeling like a total dick for even asking. Or that the paper is so rubbish they can't even bring themselves to comment.

So, is this just a weird thing for us to do?

I am never sure why she won't ask them herself. I don't entirely trust her and my persecution complex says that she is getting me to look like the dick, not her. On the other hand, if I ever make it to professor level, and a junior academic asked me for comments on a paper, I honestly think I would try to help. And if I couldn't, I wouldn't just ignore the email, I'd reply saying I was too busy or at least something!

Any thoughts?

LieweHeksie Tue 23-Jul-13 23:38:06

Seems an odd thing to ask tbh.
If someone did that to me I would prob ask the colleage in my institution what was going on.

JacqueslePeacock Tue 23-Jul-13 23:45:00

In my experience, a lot of senior academics are (or think they are) too busy to answer speculative emails - especially if they don't really know you. I'm sure it's not that your paper is rubbish.

I'm not at all clear why your co-author, who presumably knows these people much better, won't ask them to read the work. Why does it have to be you?? Next time i would suggest to her that she might be better placed to get an answer out of them. Or can you suggest anyone at your new institution who could comment on it instead, or anyone you know from conferences etc? That way you're doing your bit in terms of finding feedback, without having to email these professors.

By the way, if you're looking for the academic chat thread, it's here: Academic Chat Thread. If you post on there too, you might get much more knowledgeable answers than mine!

PiratePanda Thu 25-Jul-13 21:39:24

Yes, it's an inappropriate thing to do if you don't have a relationship with the person you're emailing (e.g. they're on the same grant/they're a mentor in your own department/the paper extensively comments on their work). And frankly, you should be at the stage where you don't need external comment before you send something out to peer review.

I'm not even senior yet, and I don't have time to read and respond to the emails I HAVE to answer, let alone ones that are requests for assistance above and beyond from people for whom I have no responsibility. My advice to you would be - if you feel you have to seek comment - to ask a senior colleague in your own department in person if they would mind commenting, and ditch your co-author as soon as you can. They sound like a weirdo.

cumfy Tue 30-Jul-13 02:09:15

This does sound as though they are fed up with her and she knows it.

Would you ask her to email someone next door to you for comments ?confused

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