As the question says would it be OK to ask this SE for a specific publication and if yes, what would be the criteria for permissibility?

Reasons for asking support:

  • it is too old (pre-electronic) and only image copies are available
  • Scholar and other search engines give the wrong citation
  • only paid public access

Reasons for limiting questions

  • invites for ask first, search later
  • proliferation of paper requests
  • risk of too many negative answers ('has been asked before', ' you can find it on Google', 'ask your library', etc)
  • needs explicit e-mail exchange

Any thoughts?


2 Answers 2


I think asking for papers is perfectly reasonable, however, although the academic publishing industry is completely broken, we still cannot break copyright laws. Each publication is different - JASA, for example says

authors have the right six or more months after publication to post copies of the article on institutional internet web sites or on governmental web sites, and have the right after publication to include the article on author‘s personal webpages.

which I think means it would be OK to post a link to a paper if someone requested it. Other organizations will obviously be different.

I would say questions should be closed with an explanation if they....

  1. Ask for an open access paper (just lazy).
  2. Ask for a paper which has already been asked for (i.e. duplicate).
  3. Ask for a paper which cannot be shared.

A question/answer could be added such as "What should I do when I don't find a paper" and people could be redirected to this question/answer (via a comment below their question). The issue is that even if they already ticked the "check list", we wont be allowed to share it as a response most of the time for copyright reasons as Jamie pointed out.

What about using the chat room to ask for papers (https://chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/137244/bioacoustics)? People would ask there, leave their email, and others can send them a copy by email, then the asker writes to say he found it. However, this requires that people checks the chat room regularly, or configure a notification (by clicking on "enable desktop notification" on the right-hand side)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The chat room is an interesting idea! I was checking it regularly at the start but it hasn't been used in days. Perhaps if we did set up a "how do I find a paper" question, then that answer could suggest the chat room? I've got the alerts on and don't mind for now because its quiet :) $\endgroup$
    – selene
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 16:56

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