Given the research paper itself and having a complete understanding of the proposed system, I could implement the system on my own. If my intention is not to re-implement it myself, but rather study the original implementation(probably by the authors of the paper), I've got the following line of questions

  1. Is it acceptable if I seek the original implementation of the paper?
  2. Is it OK to contact the author(s), and request their implementation by giving a valid reason?
  3. Are IEEE papers intellectual properties, that such a task of seeking implementation is entirely stupid?
  • This is more about etiquette in academia than it is about CS; in particular, the question applies to many other fields. Hence, migrating to Academia.
    – Raphael
    Jul 30, 2014 at 6:47

1 Answer 1


That is three questions, i.e. two more than the allowed quota for a post :-)

Seeking more information on a topic, within legal limits, is your privilege.

It is always OK to write to an author about any aspect of his works, as long as it remains a civilized exchange (which is sometimes not the case). It should be preferably clear that you have a technical level that justifies taking his time. This should show in the style of your request, not by listing degrees and achievements. Just be very simple, clear, and direct.

He may reply or not, or tell you what are the limits on what he can tell you if some of the work is confidential.

But you should first try to see what is available on the net from him or others who may have collaborated. People are usually friendly, but sometimes swamped with requests, and try to save time by preparing answers on their web site, or the web site of their organization.

So, writing is encouraged. Asking for more papers or implementation, or experimental results, is fine. But always try to spare the time of the people you write to, and avoid asking idle questions or using the exchange of mail as free tutoring.

All papers, all writings are intellectual property (IP), including this answer to you, which I happen to put under a creatve common licence, so that you do not even notice it is intellectual property.

An IEEE paper is also IP, usually owned mostly by IEEE, but there are many more detais to this (search the web for "open access" and "Berlin declaration").

But the IP concerns only the text of the papers, not the ideas you can find in it. So you are quite free to rewrite the content of a scientific paper (not a novel) in your own words and distribute it ... with due acknowledgement to the original author as the creator of the ideas, and reference to his original paper.

IEEE may own IP rights on a paper, but that implies in no way any right on the implementation of the ideas, on the experimental results or other preliminary work conducted to produce the paper, or on derived work, including the notes a teacher can write for his class on the topic of the paper.

Does this answer your questions?

  • Just a nit-picky point. I can think of at least one author who has built nearly all of his oeuvre by transcribing the works of another author in his own words. Copyright protects the expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves. Take West Side Story and Romeo and Juliet for example.
    – Rick Decker
    Jul 29, 2014 at 21:29
  • @RickDecker Well, I excluded novels (an example among other things) because, though you can reuse a theme, you really should be careful not to be too close in the details of the story. Some law suits are very expensive. For a technical text, you have no choice but following pretty closely, as technical details cannot be changed, though you are supposed to vary the style and the presentation.
    – babou
    Jul 29, 2014 at 21:42