I have read several papers written by the professor and want to ask for him to collaborate with me, that is, to help revise my paper and finally make it publish.

I'm concerning with:

1) is it okay to do this?

2) how to effectively ask for help?

3) is it safe to deliver an unpublished work to others? If not appropriate, what can I do?

Any suggestions and help will be appreciated. Thanks!

  • 2
    "...to help revise the paper..." which paper? Your paper, presumably. Can you provide more information as to why the professor might want to collaborate with you?
    – user2768
    Oct 24 '18 at 14:10
  • 1
    because the papers I read in my field are written by authors in other countries, they may be familiar and citations are to them. Oct 24 '18 at 15:27
  • 1
    But, it doesn't seem relevant whether the professor is foreign. (Also, you've used "cooperate" instead of "collaborate.") You can edit your question if you like.
    – user2768
    Oct 25 '18 at 6:36
  • @user2768 edited. Oct 25 '18 at 12:04
  • Do you have some other academic advisor or are you working entirely on your own?
    – Bryan Krause
    Oct 25 '18 at 15:44

There is no single answer to such a question as you deal with people. Regarding whether they will collaborate or not, it really depends on the professor, their style, their current available time to get involved in your work.

But it is very unlikely that collaboration can happen without prior introduction in a venue, or through another third party who knows both of you. You can target a venue where they speak there, and approach them and chat with them to get some sense whether they are interested or not. Follow your heart in these matters. If you do not feel comfortable to the person or get a feeling they are not taking you seriously, forget about them and do not waste your time and ideas with them.

From your post, it seems you are almost done with your work and you want someone to revise it. This can be achieved by submitting your paper to a reputable conference, where experts in the fields are reviewers. You can check some venues where this professor you are interested in is reviewing (not guaranteed though, but if they are an active researcher in the field, they can be in the committee of some conferences.

Is it safe to deliver unpublished work to others? Again, depends on the person. It is better to deliver it for official review where there are some rules governing the process and other parties involved.


Yes, it is ok to do this, but you are asking for collaboration, I think. The other person may not have the time or energy for it, of course.

It is safe with almost everyone, but there is a certain amount of poaching of ideas in academia, so be sure the professor has a reputation for ethical practice.

I would send an email stating that you have a draft of a paper that touches on some of the ideas of the professor and ask if he would be willing to collaborate on its completion and publication. Don't send the paper initially, but say something about it. The working title might be enough if it is descriptive, but you might want to include something about the direction of the research.

By the second email, make sure that you have worked out the authorship question if that is important to you.

Note, that by raising the issue you also raise an expectation that you will share your current work. It might be embarrassing to back out, though it might be necessary depending on how the communication goes.

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