Q: How do I write a letter to the author of the journal inquiring about the data in their study?
I would like to inquire about some particular data that I am interested in.
Hi. Thanks for your question. However, it's not clear if you wish to write to the author(s) of the journal article or to the editor of the journal, and also the purpose of writing (such as for permission to re/use the data). Please let us know. Based on that, we shall be able to guide you appropriately.
Hi. It’s not clear whether you wish to write to the author(s) of the journal article or to the editor of the journal. It would seem the former. However, we shall describe ways to get in touch with both.
The editor first. The names and mail IDs of the editorial staff of the journal are usually provided on the site, typically through the author guidelines page. For instance, those of The BMJ are provided here. If you are not sure whom to write to, a generic ID, such as ‘editor@<journal name>’ or ‘contactus@<journal name>’, is provided as well. You could write to the editor providing your background and reason for asking about the paper. Note that because they would be prioritizing publishing work over general queries, they may not get to your mail immediately (or in a worst case, not at all). In which case, you could send them a reminder some days later.
In case you wish to write to the author(s), you will need to look them up based on their details provided in the paper and/or the site of the published paper. If their mail ID or affiliation are provided, you may contact them using those details. If not, you will have to look them on the web. Good places to start are academic platforms such as Google Scholar and ResearchGate, though you’ll need to register in both cases. On social media platforms, you could try looking up Twitter and LinkedIn (and following/connecting with them as applicable). Some researchers also have personal sites where they provide their contact information.
If needed, you may also ask the editor to provide you the contact details of the researcher or to connect you with them, but again, this might take some time and effort as this will involve them going out of the way (at least slightly) to help you. If so, again, you need to provide a strong reason for wishing to contact the author(s).
To help you with some of the actions described above, here are some resources:
- How to make Web searches more precise
- Make your Google searches more precise: A few tips for researchers
- A practical handbook of templates for communicating with the journal [Handbook]
Hope this helps. And good luck in making the connect!