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So I've just written up a report that could eventually turn into a publishable manuscript, but since I'm new and this would be the first paper that I've ever written, I'm definitely going to need quite a bit of feedback before submitting it (especially since it's important for research to be interesting to multiple individuals if it's ever going to be cited).

So I'm wondering - how should I phrase an email asking someone to look at my work? Which people should I ask to comment on my work? And how would it differ from professor to graduate student? I'm thinking that my research can be interesting and helpful to a few grad students, so they can often provide a lot of help (that, and they have a lot more time than professors).

If one has time, I'm also wondering if it's a good idea to send the manuscript to people sequentially (e.g. send it to a 2nd person only after getting feedback from the first). That way, no effort is lost if two people suggest the same set of changes.

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    Have you asked your advisor? – JeffE May 19 '12 at 7:00
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    Isn't it possible to physically talk to them? Then, if they are willing, print them a copy. I guess the chances that someone unknown is going to comment via e-mail are pretty low. – Piotr Migdal May 19 '12 at 11:01
  • This is actually pretty much my own paper though (I'm not in grad school quite yet) - I do have supervisors, but they aren't putting too much time in the project.. So I pretty much have to use my own judgment. – InquilineKea May 19 '12 at 18:18
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    Then choose one supervisor that you trust and talk to her/him first. – Alexander Serebrenik May 19 '12 at 19:40
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1) Talk to your advisor. She or he should be aware of your intention to send your work to a third party, and can even suggest you the right persons to send your work to.

2) Usually you can ask only people you know personally (or your advisor knows personally).

3) In our university internal review of two colleagues is required if you want to publish a technical report. So, sometimes showing your manuscript to somebody else is required.

4) You might like to stress that the manuscript you are sending is still a preliminary version, and ask the reviewer to keep confidentiality issues in mind.

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    0) Before sending your work to any other third party, show it to you advisor. Ask for their brutally honest opinion. (Do not fell guilty for asking; this is their job.) If you're lucky, your paper will come back covered in red ink. Revise. Repeat. Once your advisor thinks it's ready, then send it out. – JeffE May 19 '12 at 19:28
  • Yes, of course ;-) I could not even imagine that a PhD student would do this without asking the advisor. – Alexander Serebrenik May 19 '12 at 19:39
  • @AlexanderSerebrenik: it is also true that some PhDs take a life of their own, and the current supervisors do not make sense any more as in their role, and they cannot suggest a good fit for 1) – ElCid Aug 30 '12 at 11:44

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