sharing submitted paper?


perhaps this is a silly question and I'm being unnecessarily overcautious.

But -- I've gotten a request from someone I don't know (personally) to look at a paper I've submitted to a journal (and I haven't heard back from the journal yet).

Do you think it's ok to give them a copy of the submitted paper? I doubt the person in question would "steal" any ideas, but I wonder if it's problematic to circulate work that's under peer-review at the moment?

Many thanks for any comments.


hey apple,

i personally wouldn't send it to them just to be on the safe side. they may not quote it or use it, but they may pass it on and it might get used then. i think once you have heard back from the reviewers and ammended the paper it would be ok to send to them. that's just my opinion though!

alternatively you could send it to them as a pdf. and just make clear it is a draft (e.g. impose 'draft' on the background) if you are keen to send it to them

L xx


I woudn't personally circulate anything pre-publication beyond my supervisor and immediate contacts. Certainly not to someone I don't know.


How did they know you submitted it? Agree with previous two posters though -- I'd just say the paper is being reviewed and amended and you'd be happy to send them the final copy when it's ready.


Thanks Leanne, Bilbo and Cleverclogs for your swift and helpful answers.

Yes, perhaps I should have given more details to explain the situation a bit better. The paper was originally a conference paper, and the person in question found the abstract on the net and was interested and therefore asked whether they can have the paper.

However, in the meantime I've submitted the expanded version of that conference paper to a journal, but haven't heard back from the editors/reviewers yet.

The fact that the paper was presented at a conference would perhaps make it "safer" to share it, but that version was rather underdeveloped compared with the journal manuscript version, therefore I hadn't really considered sharing the conference version -- but perhaps that would be one alternative?

I admit I'm quite flattered that this person is interested in the paper, also because my supervisor is so hands-off and I haven't really got many to give me feedback, and that person is quite well-known. (But on the other hand, the paper was a kind of side-project and not really phd-related, so that feedback wouldn't make too much difference on the lack of feedback otherwise).



Well done for getting your stuff together for publication.

IMO these academics are snakes, bad snakes, that wait in the grass then bite you when you're not looking. They steal your ideas and with their tarnished bite infect you with cynicism and hate. So, I'd hide it under the mattress in the bottom of my freezer in an old chocolate tin until it is published. When it's published they can read it until their eyes bleed, if they so wish.

Unless of course you are dealing with a trusted friend, then it might be useful to bounce a few ideas about before resubmission.


======= Date Modified 08 Dec 2009 07:07:57 =======
Thanks everyone for their input! Hope you don't mind if I warm this one up again.

So i got the feedback from the journal guest editors (I submitted it to a guest-edited special issue) and the paper was rejected. The e-mail was very short and general, unfortunately ("the second part needs more work") although generally keeping a positive tone (but this could of course just be politeness).

The paper was a side-project of mine that's not directly phd-related. I'd still be interested in improving it and perhaps sending it elsewhere again. However, I really don't have many people around me that can give me useful feedback. My supervisor is generally hands-off and even more hands-off with this paper that's not from my phd. At the conference where I presented the paper, there was so little discussion time in my session that the feedback didn't go beyond general politeness, and now the editors' e-mail wasn't more detailed either (I asked them if they have more detailed reviewers' comments I could look at, but no reply yet).

I've been craving for some more substantial feedback on my work for a long time, and therefore I saw this interested professor from another uni (see above) as an opportunity to finally get some (hopefully) useful comments. The main tenor here on the forum is however to not share work since the risk of being scooped is real. Of course I'm also nervous that I'm sharing crap work with someone senior and the damage this might do.

So now I'm really rather confused as to how to deal with the dilemma of needing feedback to improve and the risk of others stealing your ideas etc.? Quite a frustrating situation.

Any other people here with disinterested supervisors who have found any solutions to this dilemma? Does the fact that the paper is not directly phd-related make it safer to share in your opinion (even though I'd really like to try amending it and submitting it elsewhere)?


======= Date Modified 08 Dec 2009 08:14:03 =======

When I went to share a piece of work with somebody researching an area uncomfortably close to mine, I sent them a chapter to read (but removed some of the juicy historical sources that they *might* have been tempted to lift from my work). Could you do something like that? Hold some of your card close whilst still sharing?

A while back I sent an article with some really nice stuff in it and of immediate interest to somebody. I never got any feedback on it apart from " we think the same, when is your publication deadline?". Luckily my article will be out next year at the same time as their book (roughly) and when I buy it, I would be very surprised if some of the sources I used didn't appear used in theirs...Still this is the nature of the game.

Still, other people have been really useful with comments and it is kind of necessary to seek the opinions of others to get work up to publishable standards. Since you have presented on this topic, might you have already "staked your claim" in some way and be able to proceed disseminating some of your stuff?

Once my work is in press I have no problem if people start using the stuff ;)


thanks chrisrollinski -- i decided to take the risk in the end and sent them a draft copy. As you also said, since I've presented it on a conference, I thought it might be ok to take the risk somehow, or then the core ideas where presented there already, so in a way it has been already out in the open. In addition, the project really is a side-project and thus even if some ideas get stolen it won't endanger my phd project.

but of course i'm hoping that instead of any scooping i'll get useful feedback and can improve the draft and perhaps still try to publish it somewhere.

Thanks everyone for their comments, you've given me very helpful food for thought and made me really think long and hard about this.