I'm reading some papers and I think some of them are not clear in some parts or I want to know more in detail in some points to replicate, etc...

Also some papers I also notice (still not sure) some suspicious results or unfair comparison in result section.

Do you know where good websites/forums to ask or discuss about papers in general? (Certainly after I tried other ways like sending email, try to contact them via LinkedIn and so on).

I tried research gate and here but it seems like the researchers are busy with their work and never pay any attention on their accepted paper (I'm in Computer Science major).

(Edited) I mainly expected the help/hint/explanation from other researchers who also share the same research direction/paper on the paper I wanted to learn. (I knew no way the authors know/get notified someone ask/discuss their papers on somewhere on this big Internet)

  • 2
    The authors, reviewers and editor(s) worked hard on the paper - perhaps you need to do some more reading around the topic.
    – Solar Mike
    May 27 '19 at 18:38
  • 10
    If you're hoping to get a reply from the authors by posting comments on stackexchange or researchgate, I think that's a very long shot. I would email the authors directly. They may not reply, but you have much better odds than by hoping they will notice your comment on some website. May 27 '19 at 18:49
  • 4
    What field is this? What sort of thing is missing?
    – Buffy
    May 27 '19 at 19:23
  • have you tried pubpeer.com?
    – Our
    Apr 15 '20 at 20:01

First, you should always try to find answers on details and your questions on a paper in the references of that paper. It's also easy to overlook the supplementary material of a paper, when available. If your questions/details are very fundamental and basic, it's likely these issues are resolved in those sources, otherwise it's unlikely it would have passed the review process of a good journal.

On average (even on researchgate (imo horrible to search this website)) you will not find many readers interested in a particular article, as not many read an individual article, and the likelihood that you meet at the same time/spot in the WWW is low. If the article has an higher citation count, your chances are better to discuss via googlegroups/stackexchange/boards a paper with other being interested, but also the chances that you missed or misunderstood something reading the paper.

Another option is looking into papers citing the particular paper, via google scholar you can even search only within such papers and using the right keywords.

One imho very unused option is looking into a related thesis to that paper. In depth explanations, technical setups, formulas are often described there in detail and often the thesis is freely available in the www or the server of the university. In Germany all PhD thesis are freely downloadable.

If your confusion and questions are not answered by those methods, you should contact the corresponding author of a paper via the given mail adress. But keep the length ouf your mail short and the questions clear, especially and even if you think some results are "suspicious/unfair". Here you can also ask if a thesis exists that gives more details than the paper. It's only your suspicion and maybe wrong. Rather ask how than why questions, especially under such a suspicion.

Personally, if I ask a corresponding author something I'm missing or not understanding after applying above methods before, it's how they did something (technical measurement, simulation details). Why questions are mostly all resolved by authors, journal editor and reviewers during planning, writing and reviewing a paper. The details of how are quite often missing, due to limited space/interest or to keep an advance. In the latter case, if no other researcher/group can reproduce specific results in a paper (this happens quite often), at some point the authors will/have to reveal some secrets, before being suspected of pseudo-science and I have experienced also several times that results/methods of paper have been doubted directly after presentation in the questions time at conferences by the audience. If you can meet an author of a paper which is important for your research on a conference, take the opportunity, asking someone direct critical questions in a talk or poster presentation will often reveal much faster, if something is made-up or the well thought out.

  • 1
    Nice comprehensive answer. One more possibility: if the paper is published by a journal that allows comments (such as PLOS ONE), ask the question publicly as a reader comment. May 28 '19 at 7:39

Make really sure that you're right - that something really is unclear and it isn't your inexperience or lack of knowledge that makes it so. Ideally ask your advisor about it.

If you're still confident, then email the corresponding author directly. As the other answer says, be brief, respectful and concise. If you think they have made a mistake, do not accuse them of it straight away - start from a position of trying to understand.

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