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A famous paper has three coauthors. I wrote a note regarding that paper and want to get some feedback from them. Shall I send the note and my questions in one email to the three authors together (with two of them in cc line or also in "to" line), or is it more respectful to send three different personalized letters?

If I am sending three personalized letters to each of them, shall I tell them that I also send the letter to the two other authors?

One obvious answer for natural science disciplines is to send one email to the corresponding author only. However, most economic papers have equal coauthors and many economic papers have no corresponding authors or three corresponding authors with email addresses specified. In contrast, the natural science papers usually only have one corresponding.

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    Why use the cc line. You can have multiple recipients on the main "to" line. – Buffy Aug 30 '20 at 19:20
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    @NateEldredge Since the question was about economists, the the three authors will probably respond with at least 3 (and probably more) self-contradictory answers to the question! – alephzero Aug 31 '20 at 13:46
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    @V2Blast: Ok, converted to answer. – Nate Eldredge Aug 31 '20 at 20:21
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My solution would be to send one mail. Personalization seems a wasted effort as you don't know the people, I assume. It even seems a bit presumptuous.

But put all three authors on the TO: line, not some there and some on the CC:, line. The latter feels like you are picking a lead author and they may not agree with that.

With twenty authors, the corresponding author solution would be fine, but with only a few, send it to all.

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    +1 especially for addressing all authors equally, rather than trying to pick a lead author. – user2768 Aug 31 '20 at 10:33
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Whatever you do, please do not send three independent emails. The reason is that if you do, then each of the three may spend time writing similar answers to your question, unaware that the others are doing the same. This wastes their time.

Either pick one corresponding author to email directly (as rhialto suggests), or send a single message addressed to all three (as Buffy suggests). In the latter case, each will at least know that the others have received the same message, and whoever replies first can easily cc the others, letting them know they no longer need to respond unless they want to.

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Pick one author - probably the corresponding author.

If I received an email addressed to multiple authors of one of my papers - especially if it required any thinking - then it would go right to the bottom of my todo list, and probably stay there for months.

If it were clearly aimed at me (eg to me, cc’d to the others, and I’m the corresponding author), it’d get a much higher priority.

So - make it clear who you want a response from, else it’ll be everyone’s job - and they’ll all ignore it as a lower priority task.

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  • Good advice! So I have to first try to fig-out who did which part? – High GPA Aug 31 '20 at 16:22
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    @HighGPA just write to the corresponding author - if one of their colleagues is better placed to answer your question they’ll know and can pass on the message. – rhialto Aug 31 '20 at 16:23
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    @rhialto: The last paragraph mentions: "One obvious answer for natural science disciplines is to send one email to the corresponding author only. However, most economic papers have equal coauthors and many economic papers have no corresponding authors or three corresponding authors with email addresses specified. In contrast, the natural science papers usually only have one corresponding." You may want to address that aspect in your answer. – V2Blast Aug 31 '20 at 20:16

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