I recently put up my first paper on the arXiv and have been dealing with the torrent of e-mails asking for citations. This is normal and part of the publication process, though I’ve been amused by some of the e-mails I’ve been getting…

  • One person decided to e-mail my adviser even though it was my e-mail address that was associated with the paper. There is a reason why my e-mail associated with the paper: the senior collaborators don’t want to have to deal your “please cite me” e-mails! Don’t worry, I discuss everything with my collaborators,  but let’s keep things organized, yes?
  • E-mails that start with “I read your paper with great interest…” This is a very nice thing to say, but of course when you send it just 30 minutes after the paper is made public, then I know that you really mean: “I quickly searched your bibliography for my name… with great interest.
  • All these e-mails make me wonder if anything I’ve done is original at all.
  • There is something to be said about being a competent writer. When I skim some of these papers begging for citations, it is clear why they’re not part of the ‘standard’ set of cited papers: they’re unreadable. Yes, being a native English speaker is a huge advantage here and yes, that’s unfair for those who aren’t native speakers, but that’s the way it is.
  • I’ll cite papers even though they don’t really have to be cited. This is partly to avoid confrontation, but also because I can sympathize with other grad students who keep an eye on their citations on SPIRES.