I have a question: I'm currently working on my PhD and I was looking for some specific data. After going through a lot of articels I found one from 2016 and one from 2017 both from the same three authors.

In this article the authors are trying to solve an empirical question and for this they create a very nice graph which shows exactly the data I was searching for. This graph is not the main subject of the article, only briefly mentioned and an interim solution to the main problem the authors are trying to solve.

Based on the article alone it is not possible to recreate the graph (because they are not using publicly available data).

Looking for a way to get the data I contacted one of the three authors via email (maybe this was a mistake). I wrote something like (my email was based on a question in this forum which I can't find right now):

  • I was reading your article
  • who I am and what I'm doing right now
  • what I'm interested in
  • what I need and that it would be very helpful if I could get the data (again I was pointing out that I only need the data points of the graph)

This was one week ago and I still got no answer. Should I contact the other two authors of the article?

  • "I only need the data points of the graph" Can you not just read these off the graph? Or get your computer to do it, see: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/7671/… Commented Mar 25, 2018 at 14:23
  • Thank you for the comment. I already tried this. The problem is the following: The data I need are plotted together with some other data. Unfortunately the graph I need is depicted as a dashed line and the other data are plotted as constant black line. The two lines cross each other and lie partly on top of each other. Therefore it is quite hard to read out the data, but thanks for your suggestion.
    – PAS
    Commented Mar 25, 2018 at 14:35
  • 1
    Check the journal data policy Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 21:13

1 Answer 1


I would wait longer for a response before following up or contacting the others. (Sticking with the "corresponding author" listed on the paper should be appropriate unless they are currently on leave from their position.) The authors may be busy and may not have gotten around to it.

The process of answering may also take some time. If you're the first one to request the data, they might even be talking among themselves about who has a clean copy, whether they want to release the data, whether they can release the raw data as well, how to verify you would adequately protect (raw) data, whether they have updated data to share, etc.

In the meantime, I'd suggest digging a bit more into the source of the data (did they do the experiments themselves? did they tediously collect it? did they buy access to the underlying data or get special permission?) so that you can see if you could replicate or approximate it. You could also see if any of the works citing them have used the same data (i.e. if there is evidence they have been willing to share it with others, that would suggest they are more likely to share with you).

You could also scour their academic websites and CVs.

  • Is further information available on their websites, like an unpublished appendix?

  • Is there a rendering of the graph online that somehow has the key data embedded in it?

  • Through their CVs, can you find potential points of contact? (E.g., if an author attended grad school with your advisor, or coauthored with another professor with whom you've taken a class, those profs might be especially good to ask advice of. If the prof you ask is on good terms with you and the author, they may even write an email on your behalf asking about the data.)

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