I am doing my MS thesis on wireless networking, I give the codes from the author of the paper, for some month, after reading his paper and also working on the some aspects of his codes (the implementation of his paper). Now it is the time to create the idea, Can I send him "Do you have any idea which improve some aspects of your paper ? "

would you please give me some advises ? can I ask him or not? how to ask that ? what I should say to him ?

NOTE: my reason for asking him is this: I am sure he knows his codes better than every body, also I am afraid in implementing any idea which do not lead to good result at the end. By the way I do not have lot of time to try and test another ways I mean try and implement one idea with bad result and after that switch to another idea.

UPDATE: If I ask him, "... , that is my idea, what do think about my idea?" what will happen? what is his possible respond?

UPDATE2: The meaning of idea in my question is "HOW TO EXTEND HIS WORK"

  • 5
    You may find this awkward. He is probably trying to extend his own work and may not be willing to share his ideas beyond what's already in the "Future Work" or "Discussion" sections of his papers.
    – Bill Barth
    Sep 7, 2014 at 17:20
  • @BillBarth, thanks I added an update, what is your idea in that case?
    – M R R
    Sep 7, 2014 at 17:27
  • 3
    He can respond anything in the world! You may find that you're giving your ideas away or that you find a great collaborator. As such, it seems better to me to sit down with your thesis supervisor and work on your ideas with them.
    – Bill Barth
    Sep 7, 2014 at 17:32
  • 1
    What does "I give the codes from the author of the paper" mean? Did you ask the author for the codes, or obtain them some other way?
    – Mad Jack
    Sep 8, 2014 at 0:12
  • 1
    Right, you've already sent him a first email to get the codes, so it seems to me that it'd be fairly straightforward to send him a follow-up email using the same email exchange from before as a starting point, i.e. this isn't your first time "pestering" the author. Not sure what's holding you back since you've already made contact.
    – Mad Jack
    Sep 8, 2014 at 3:19

2 Answers 2


Since you are now doing your MSc thesis, you are relatively new to research. Still, you have to learn a very valuable lesson. Good research ideas are hard to find, when thousands of smart people are competing for limited slots in journals or CS conferences. In this spirit, people do not want to share their good ideas or inform others about what they are planning to do, more than what they state in the future work section. In this SE community, there are many posts about supervisors or collaborators stealing idea from their students, or vice versa. If you cannot always trust your advisor or student, can you trust a stranger with your good research idea? The obvious answer is NO, unless you simply cannot implement the idea yourself without his help or you do not have the time to do it by yourself (which is solvable if you delegate this work to more collaborators, like undergraduate students or colleagues). Sharing ideas should be limited to people you absolutely trust.. Do not get me wrong. By people you can trust, I do not necessarily mean people you interact socially with. It might be the person in your next office or another scientist 1000s of kms away. But trust in a necessary component before any type of sharing and "brainstorming".

I would therefore suggest: Try to do it yourself. Extend his work the way you see fit and try to publish the results. If you succeed, then he will know that you are good enough and perhaps suggest collaboration himself. Of course you may find that your idea was not that good and you have wasted a significant amount of time. Or your idea was good but parallel to you and without him knowing what you were planning to do, he implemented it faster and got it published. In any case, you should base your option on what you want to do. Do you want to finish your MSc thesis as soon as possible and go to industry? Then by all means, share your idea and use his help. But if you want to continue in research, you must choose the hardest way and do it yourself with all the risks and time included.

  • This is field-dependent - in particular, many established researchers in my field of theoretical particle physics have more ideas than they know what to do with.
    – David Z
    Sep 8, 2014 at 0:59
  • @Alexandros, +1 your answer depict realities, thanks for this great advise
    – M R R
    Sep 8, 2014 at 2:27
  • 2
    Sharing ideas should be limited to people you absolutely trust. — I disagree! Keeping ideas secret should be restricted to people you absolutely distrust!
    – JeffE
    Sep 8, 2014 at 2:31

It never hurts to politely ask!

  • I think this could be implemented as an automatic response!
    – Davidmh
    Sep 7, 2014 at 18:23
  • @Davidmh I know, but the person who asked the question, has a problem in the essence of asking something from someone, and I tried to keep it short and sweet :-). I'm not a robot, I like Pink Floyd and rainbows ;)
    – o-0
    Sep 7, 2014 at 18:55

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