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Is it considered bad etiquette to ask to read a manuscript in preparation that appears in the citations of a paper? (It was cited in a paper from 2001 - I am not sure it has been published; I cannot find it - although the title may have changed...?)

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Did you check the author's CV? If it's not there, the polite way to ask is if it were published under a different title. Be prepared for utter silence and a non response if not. –  RoboKaren Jul 20 at 4:07
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I have just realized what lack of a publication implies and I am feeling pretty embarrassed. I mean that even if it were not published at all, I would like to read what exists of it --- is it impolite to ask for that? (guessing that it is, but I'm not sure if that changes things) –  pen Jul 20 at 4:24
    
No worries. See academia.stackexchange.com/questions/26024/… –  RoboKaren Jul 20 at 4:26
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I can imagine that it might not be well-received, for the reasons given in other comments... but at the same time, it has been cited by them, so in the interests of reproducibility it seems perfectly reasonable to enquire after it! Especially if the paper that you are reading relies upon it in some way... –  Simon W Jul 20 at 7:12
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@pen What does lack of publication imply to you? As I see it, there could be many reasons. For example, it could be mostly a student's work, but that student left academia. Or perhaps the authors discovered errors in the manuscript and didn't know how to fix them. Regardless of the reason, it's perfectly alright to inquire politely. –  Mangara Jul 20 at 12:41

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

No, it's not bad etiquette. Most people will be happy to know that someone wants to read their work. Of course, you should take the time to try to find it yourself first. It may have been published under another title or in a hard-to-find place (like some conference proceedings).

From the comments, it seems that you're worried about hurting the author's feelings by reminding them of a paper rejection. I don't think you should feel that way. Rejected papers are part of a normal academic career, and in any case you don't know whether that paper was rejected.

If you ask me for a copy of a paper that happens to have been rejected, I'll send it to you.

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