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I coauthored a paper with my former advisor and he sent it to an expert for review before submitting it to a journal. A couple of weeks have passed by and I would like to know the status, but I have not heard anything new from my former advisor about the paper.

I thus am wondering:

Are there any negative consequences associated with asking my former advisor about the status of the paper?

Simply put, I am afraid that my former advisor would feel that I am being pushy or something similar.

Moreover, if there are no negative consequences, I would like to know how to properly formulate such an email.

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If you co-authored the paper, this is definitely a harmless and reasonable question. Just send your former advisor a brief email, asking whether he has heard back from the person he asked to referee it. Something along the lines of

Dear Prof. X,
I was wondering whether you have heard back from Prof Y about our paper yet. 
Could you please keep me updated when you do?
Kind regards,
Z

(Since you're afraid to ask I've guessed that you have a formal relationship with this person, but off course replace "Dear Prof." and "Kind regards" with whatever you usually would use to address him.)

Note that a couple of weeks isn't a very long time for reviewing a paper, as it's the kind of job that people tend to put off until either right before the deadline or until a magical time when they will be less busy, so it's very likely that the other person just hasn't gotten back to your former advisor yet. Especially if they didn't give them some sort of deadline.

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  • Thanks for taking time to write. May I know what title of such an email would be most appropriate?
    – Megadeth
    Mar 13 '15 at 1:09
  • You shouldn't overthink the title of an email. Just something like 'paper status' will do.
    – Soupturtle
    Mar 13 '15 at 17:30
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I see no problem with such a question. Just phrase it in a non-pushy way, like:

Hi, XXX: I just wanted to check in on the status of our paper, since we sent it to YYY for input a couple of weeks ago. Do you know if YYY has gotten a chance to review it yet?

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