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While searching through various journals with my library's on-line journal search tools, I have occasionally found short articles which are simply comments on other published papers. These short articles might have various kinds of comments, but generally describe why the first paper's research or theories are flawed. In addition, sometimes I have found replies from the original author of the first paper, responding to these comments, for e.g., to clarify the meaning or perhaps to give further support to their original arguments.

  • Do such exchanges generally only occur within the same journal, i.e. the responses are published in the same journal, or can these occur across journals?
  • Are there any special tools to assist with locating all of these "replies"?
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First, it may depend on your field, but at least in mine (physics and chemistry), it is rare for papers to generate comments or replies, and really extraordinary for a paper to be followed by multiple comments. (The editor usually lets the original authors reply to the comment, however.)

Some publishers provide links to the comments and replies on the webpage for the original paper. Otherwise, you can locate those comments using the following criteria:

  • they are published in the same journal, or in a preprint server (like arxiv)
  • their title includes “comment on” or “reply to” (or other such publisher-dependent prefix that you need to identify)

Finally, you should get the list of all newer papers citing the original paper, and check them out. If you're investigating a paper in depth, you’ll do that anyway :)

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  • At least in Theoretical Physics, there are also sometimes errata fixing mathematical mishaps that are more than mere sign errors... Depending on the journal, these are often directly linked to at the paper's online presence, if they are not even included in a re-publication – Tobias Kienzler Aug 22 '13 at 14:01
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In pure math, a good paper may be cited only 10 to 20 times. An excellent paper may be cited only a 100 times or fewer. As a result, it's fairly quick to skim the titles and abstracts of all newer papers that cite a given paper. This is easy using MathSciNet. I think Web of Science provides similar functionality for other fields.

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  • I think that answer missed the question. – grunwald2.0 Nov 16 '12 at 13:54
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    The point of the answer is that you don't need any special tools. It's fairly quick to do manually, given that you have access to a decent citation database. To say it another way, the best tool is a good citation database. – Dan C Nov 17 '12 at 5:14

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