I'm a senior in college and working for my final year project. I am required to read more than 8 papers. However, 2 of them cannot be found online or in the library (Summon system). The library delivery service is inaccessible now, and I believe my advisor have that papers.

Can I ask professor to send me a copy of the papers? Is it impolite to ask such favor or illegal?

2 Answers 2


Yes, you can, and you should. It is not impolite (unless you actually have access), and it is not unethical. I don't think it is illegal, if you do not distribute it further, and it is certainly not uncommon.

First, make sure you really don't have access (otherwise, you risk looking a bit like a fool), then ask him. Don't make a big deal of it, just explain that you lack access and you believe he may have them, if so could he please send them.

  • 1
    IANAL, but this sort of thing would certainly qualify in the US under fair use.
    – Amory
    Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 16:24

One trick is to google the complete name of the paper in quotes. This will very often pull up a pdf copy stashed somewhere; perhaps on the profs own web page. Sometimes you can get essentially the same paper from arxiv. But I totally agree with the previous answer that you should make sure you don't otherwise have access to the paper before emailing. If you can't get an email response, your library can almost certainly get you a free electronic copy by inter-library loan.

  • Thanks!I do not know there is a service inter-library loan. Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 13:06

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