Here is what I learned from this site:

If a researcher learned that somebody found a serious mistake in one of their papers, published a counterexample and a corrected version of the result, and did not even bother to tell them about it, then they would be not amused.

In case I am submitting a paper heavily build on a series of previous papers authored by the same team, should I contact the original team or not?

If I publish without notifying, will the original author think that I am stealing apples from their trees?

This situation is related to: Publishing a non-invalidating comment to a recent paper- should I contact the original authors if I know them?.

The difference is, 1) I am publishing a research paper not a comment/opinion, and 2) the original authors are not my colleagues and we don't know each other.

  • 1
    How heavily is your paper built upon the previous paper ? Is it 30%, 50% or 70% ? Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 6:50
  • @Job_September_2020 That will be very subjective. I'd say the result is novel but the assumptions and structures are 70% borrowed.
    – High GPA
    Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 7:24
  • Do you work in a field where preprint repositories (e.g., arXiv) are usually used? I do, and my approach would probably be 1. post on arXiv, 2. contact the other team, 3. wait a reasonable amount of time, 4. submit. But this may not be applicable to you.
    – N.I.
    Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 8:02
  • @N.I. We do use preprints. For some long articles we go through some lengthy discussion with every possible one. For short papers or less novel papers (like this) things become much more flexible. Btw, approximately what amount of time do you believe is "reasonable"?
    – High GPA
    Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 8:09
  • I'd put the statement "you have learned" from this site into a bit of perspective. Publishing a counterexample to correct the scientific record without contacting the original author is entirely within the norms of science. Contacting the original author is also entirely within the norms. Either way can be a sensible/useful way to proceed whether the original authors are amused or not. Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 17:46

1 Answer 1


No, you don't need to contact them, but be sure your paper cites the ones of theirs that your work builds on, and be sure your introduction discusses what's novel to your paper. If you give appropriate credit, then they cannot think you are "stealing apples" from them.

That said, it's probably wise to email them with your draft as you make it public. It's a safe assumption that they will be interested in work that builds on their own. They might even be asked to referee your paper. And, they might have ideas that could make your paper better, or ideas for a subsequent paper to build on what you've done.

In cases where I've built on others' work in this way, I usually email them a draft of my finished paper a few days before I put it on arXiv. Sometimes they tell me things I didn't know (e.g., work of others that I should mention in my literature review) and I am able to touch up my paper a bit before arXiv. After a week or two on arXiv, I submit the paper for publication if no one else has reached out with comments. When others have built on my work, they've often used the same approach. I appreciate this slightly more than stumbling across their paper on arXiv. We are all humans and it's good not to forget the human side of academia. Take the opportunity to develop a relationship with these researchers, and maybe someday you will collaborate with them on something.

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