4

I am conducting research with a Ph.D. scholar under a supervisor, who is, in some sense, heading this group. The Ph.D. scholar and the supervisor have two articles undergoing a second round of review. The comments received in the first round of review were fairly straightforward to address, according to the Ph.D. scholar. For this reason, it is believed that the papers will be accepted soon.

The research I am conducting can be seen as an extension of the work done by the Ph.D. scholar and the supervisor. For this, it would be useful for me to have access to the articles they have under review. However, the Ph.D. scholar is reluctant to share these articles, and would prefer to wait until they are accepted before sharing them with me. Note that the papers are not available anywhere online, not on a website and not even on a preprint server.

The question is not about what I can do: I am okay with the situation, and have no real problem waiting till the articles are accepted. I am however interested in the more general case.

I assumed that since I was, in a way, a part of this group, any research that they may have under preparation or review would be accessible to me, in some manner, and I wouldn't have to wait until the published versions came out to access the research. Is my assumption correct, and is my experience less common than the alternative?

Simply put, is it common for members of a research group, including graduate students, to be able to access articles that are under review, so that they can obtain insights to further their understanding of a topic, and hence increase the pace at which they conduct research? Or is the alternative more common? For obvious reasons, I am particularly interested in fields/topics in which preprints are not widespread, and the usual publication process holds.

2
  • Where are you based out of? I realize a lot of these are culture / context-specific so it'll be good to know more info. Jul 16 at 18:36
  • India. (See the comment on Bryan Krause's answer.) Jul 17 at 1:56
7

I assumed that since I was, in a way, a part of this group, any research that they may have under preparation or review would be accessible to me, in some manner, and I wouldn't have to wait until the published versions came out to access the research. Is my assumption correct, and is my experience less common than the alternative?

It would be typical in any research group I've been part of that everyone in the group have access to collaborative work within the group. Our in-progress papers are all readily accessible by anyone in the lab. It's common to pass things around among people not immediately involved in a specific project to get their "outsider" perspective on it, as well.

The only time I see people being secretive is usually students who are a bit nervous about their early-stage work and like to hide it a little bit until it's "ready for consumption". That's fine, too, but it's limited to things that are still far from ready to submit.

The secrecy you describe seems very weird to me, but maybe just a personality quirk of this one individual. When patents are concerned, rather than publications, things might be a little different because of the complex legal circumstances around patents.

It seems like a serious impediment to your work to not have an up-to-date history of what else is going on in the research group. Although you are okay with waiting, I don't think it's in your best interest. I would ask this PhD scholar to have a conversation with you and the supervisor to resolve this. Perhaps they are nervous about something they shouldn't be, perhaps they fear the supervisor wouldn't want the work shared when in reality they have no issue with it. I would not recommend simply waiting for it to be published. Science is a constant incremental project, and being in a lab where related work is being done you should be ahead of the broader community on the next steps.

3
  • 1
    This seems odd and unproductive to me, also. I am wondering if the person got burned in the past by sharing. They aren't doing their long term career much good as they are probably not open to collaboration.
    – Buffy
    Jul 16 at 17:08
  • @Buffy Yeah, seems mostly like just a bit of paranoia, whether from their own past experience, reading some horror story from someplace else, or just unfamiliarity with how things normally operate.
    – Bryan Krause
    Jul 16 at 17:11
  • 2
    @BryanKrause I will mention that my experience is not very uncommon in certain parts of the world. (I am in India.) I have conducted research under multiple professors, and each of them had their weird quirks on sharing work that was in progress, and these could just be filed under "conservative behavior arising from reading/hearing horror stories". Jul 16 at 17:29
4

Contrary to Bryan Krause's experience, none of the research groups I've ever belonged to had any kind of structured shared access to work-in-progress. I also had not heard of other groups with such arrangements before. If any of my colleagues would express entitlement to see my work-in-progress, I would be rather peeved. But polite requests by people I know (whether at the same institution or not) typically lead to access to even extremely stage drafts.

That said, an article that has already been submitted for publication is supposed to be something ready for others to read. I personally would make such articles publically avaiable via the arXiv anyway. But even if there are reasons to keep the work confidently, not sharing it with a close colleague who has a good reason for needing to read it seems very weird to me.

2
  • That is quite interesting. Could you clarify which country and which field you are talking about? Jul 17 at 2:44
  • @RamPadmanabhan I'm in mathematical logic/theoretical computer science. Positions were in the UK and Belgium.
    – Arno
    Jul 17 at 9:04
1

Okay in the west it’s fairly common to have access to the group’s research as you go along, build up partnerships and write papers together. However, based on some of the horror stories I’ve heard about in Indian universities, that might not be the norm because of part experience of stealing research and whatnot (this also happens in the west, but only with a confluence of a lot of major wrongs).

But if this paper is already in the review process I don’t see why your colleague would be so scared to share the research. You should talk to your advisor and find out what the norm is within your research groups so that you know how to operate going forward. If scooping each other’s research is a concern you all might try and putting out preprints at arxiv in the future to ensure that a public DOI is generated and is couple to active manuscripts.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.