Friday, 25 January 2013

Cheer up a Fellow Parasitologist!

Author: Antti Oksanen

Looking for some probably existing literature in the office, I happened to encounter an empty shoebox which I had used to collect reprint requests in. During the latest office move, I decided to be practical and discarded all reprint stacks of my own papers, as well as all the (several!) reprint request cards from often far-away-countries. Everything happens electronically nowadays, so no need to request reprints anymore. Reprint request cards were not for the Modern Scientist; already several years had elapsed since I received one.

But I remember just how I felt like to receive one. Somebody, somewhere, was interested in my work! And this person sent me a card, perhaps with a beautiful butterfly or mosquito stamp. I did not hurry to collect it from the mail tray before all colleagues had commented it. Put it in the shoebox and thought maybe after the next paper I need to get another box, perhaps a boot box. Then came the electronic full-text databases, such as ScienceDirect, which my institution started to subscribe. It gives an easy access to the publications in journals from this publisher, more reading than I might ever be able to digest. Open Access journals make it even easier. Still, there is a problem in achieving papers in journals from many publishers the institution does not subscribe. The library could order them, of course, but for a fee, which is often considerably high. Publishing is business, and the publisher of course needs the money, but does a 5-page paper really need to cost 35 €, or more?

Electronic Reprint Request (ERR) is the easy solution. Why not send an e-mail to the author and request an electronic Portable Document Format (.pdf) file of the interesting article? Publishers, at least some, permit the distribution of copies of published journal articles to research colleagues for their personal use
Below, please find a simple model of ERR:

Dear Colleague
Markus J Rantala,
I would greatly appreciate receiving a reprint (.pdf file) of your article entitled:
"Adiposity, compared with masculinity, serves as a more valid cue to immunocompetence in human mate choice"
Which appeared in:
Proc Biol Sci. 2013 Jan 22;280(1751):20122495. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2012.2495.
Thanking you in advance,
Antti Oksanen, Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, Research and Laboratory Department, Elektroniikkatie 3, FI-90590 Oulu, Finland Antti.Oksanen[at]

You can easily personalize your ERR by adding something about your own interest in the matter:
I’m not skinny but competent.
And you can add your favourite parasitological stamp:

Don’t make the error of not acquiring all the relevant literature needed in your own research. An abstract is almost always less than an entire article. ERR is a nice way to delight a Colleague and save money simultaneously.

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