I noticed that someone posted a paper on arxiv that has a good overlap with a paper of mine, including some key inspirations/lemmas. However, it seems like there was no reference to my work or the results already proven by us. Is it considered OK if I send an email to the relevant authors pointing out our previous work? Would it be rude if I explicitly ask them to consider including the reference?

I am asking also in part because I myself have previously received such emails and ended up adding a couple of references in the revision of my paper. However, I'm not certain if it is a norm in general.


2 Answers 2


I'm assuming by "posted a paper" you mean they uploaded it to a preprint server. I would argue that is the point of posting a pre-print. In a perfect world, people read your work and potentially comment on it before it goes to publication. Obviously this doesn't really happen all that often, but I would be happy if someone took the time to reach out to help improve my work.

So the point is, if you come across a pre-print (or any article really) that overlaps with work you've published in the past, reaching out is fine. I don't know how the authors would react to explicitly asking to be cited, but obviously you have responded positively in the past. I would probably just present your work to them and let them decide if it is, in fact, relevant enough to warrant citation. I don't think it would be necessarily rude to ask for a citation, but some might find it offputting (so be careful how you phrase it).

Whatever you choose, just know that the authors aren't really obligated to include a citation - no-one is expected to cite every paper related to their topic. And it's up to them to decide at the end of the day.

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    I would just add that if there are other paper (not authored by you) that you feel they should have cited, including those might reduce the "cite me" appearance Oct 20, 2023 at 14:07

If they haven't read or used your paper in their work, there is no need to cite it. You cite the things you use and depend upon. They may have independently done some of the things you did and that is fine.

I wouldn't write them asking for a citation, but I definitely would write them informing them of your work and your common interest in this particular topic. It might lead them to do a rewrite that would require a citation, but it might also open up an opportunity for collaboration on future projects that extend everyones work.

I though you should be aware of this paper of mine. It overlaps with your recent .... Perhaps we should discuss further joint work, etc. etc.

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    If they have independently done some of the things he did, they absoultely should cite his work.
    – the L
    Oct 20, 2023 at 12:54
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    @theL, it is possible that they have never seen it. There would be no ethical obligation to cite it if so. It would be courtesy only. Cite the things you use.
    – Buffy
    Oct 20, 2023 at 12:58
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    But once it comes to their attention that this has been done already, they should acknowledge this openly at the very least... Oct 20, 2023 at 14:04
  • I would say that often, in the related work section, you try to give a brief overview of the problem and approaches to solving it. There are often complementary approaches that you neither directly use nor depend upon, but they should be mention to position your own work correctly amongst current research.
    – penelope
    Oct 20, 2023 at 14:11
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    Normally I like your answers but this one seems very off to me. Might be different field having different norms but I would say that giving credit is only a very small part of what citations are for. The bigger point is to provide context for your work. This can very often mean that you should cite things you don't use at all (instead it might have in common the same goal or is otherwise of interest to readers of your paper). Still not sure the OP should email to make the authors aware of their work. I've done it once when I felt someone should really know. But it can be frowned upon.
    – Kvothe
    Oct 20, 2023 at 15:43

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