A student of mine and I submitted a manuscript for publication. It is currently under review. My student applied for a postgraduate degree program. The advisor (professor) of this program asked her to provide him with the manuscript or pre-print in order to finally assess her qualifications.

As I mentioned, the manuscript is not published yet and is under review. What is the best way I can advise her to respond to the advisor? I don't want her to get rejected because we declined to provide him with the manuscript. This is somewhat new to me since no one, in principle, asks for a submitted manuscript that is under review!

Thanks a lot!

  • 8
    Where did you get the idea that "no one, in principle, asks for a submitted manuscript that is under review"? This is actually totally normal.
    – Buzz
    Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 22:24
  • 5
    If one is applying for a graduate student position with someone—yes.
    – Buzz
    Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 22:28
  • 2
    Different disciplines seem to have different conventions. I'm a mathematician; in math, it's very common to share preprints publicly, and this request would not be in any way unusual -- even coming from a complete stranger. In math, the correct answer would be 100% that the student should send a copy of her preprint. In other disciplines, I suspect that this is still the best course of action, but I'm less sure.
    – academic
    Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 22:31
  • 1
    Yes it is common to upload to arXiv. Can I do so if the paper is submitted already?
    – Naps
    Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 22:33
  • 2
    Is there a particular reason to be uncomfortable sharing the paper with this person? I don't see that this is really any different from presenting results at a conference/seminar, or discussing them with colleagues. Note that the editor has -- presumably -- already sent copies to random strangers to review! So there doesn't seem to be any harm in sharing it with the professor. You can remind them that it is under review and ask them not to share it further.
    – avid
    Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 22:35

1 Answer 1


It's normal to show unpublished work to colleagues, sometimes for their input/advice/suggestions for edits, sometimes because they're working on similar work (whether collaborating or not), or, like in this situation, to demonstrate work for a job/grad school application.

I agree it's a little unusual to ask directly, but only a little, and in this situation it makes sense, especially if the publication is listed on a CV as "submitted". More typically it would come up if, say, you were having a conversation with someone at a conference or after a talk. You're discussing some topic, and Person A says: "Oh we have some recently submitted work on this! If you'd like, I can send you the manuscript."

If the field allows for preprints (that is, if journals will not consider preprints to be prior publication and accept them as original articles), it would be a good idea for someone applying for positions to make sure their latest work is out as a preprint if possible and to include these details with their application. (of course there are other benefits to preprints, as well) Since you say people use arXiv in your field, then assuming the specific journal doesn't have an unusual policy against preprints, that's how I would approach this: reply with "oh of course! the paper has been uploaded to arXiv here: ".

I think it would be a courtesy to other authors to make sure they don't have any issues with sending the paper to one outside person (and I'd double check with her advisor, just in case there are any weird politics - in that case it seems that advisor is you!), though I personally wouldn't be bothered at all if the first author of a paper I contributed to chose to share it with someone else. I think other authors should definitely agree before posting a preprint with their name on it (just like they would agree to a submission), but I wouldn't expect any opposition if the work is already in condition to submit to a journal.

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