Corresponding authors who don't correspond

I encounter a surprising number of academics who can’t be bothered to respond to direct, concise questions about their published research.

I do understand that busy researchers receive a lot of email and don’t have all the time in the world to respond to every query.

That said, why bother listing yourself as a corresponding author if you won’t respond to people who contact you about your work, people who plan to cite your publications and use your results? People who have taken the time to actually read your papers and care enough to reach out to you?

I have emailed countless scientists in recent years. I spend a great deal of time and effort carefully crafting these emails so they are succinct, specific, and (if possible) pose questions in yes/no or A/B formats (“I can’t make out detail XYZ in Fig 1 in the pdf—is it scenario A or B?”). My entire goal is to craft questions that can be answered efficiently—in a single sentence if possible.

Despite this effort, I estimate I only get one response for every ten emails I send.

Can anybody help me understand why researchers aren’t more accessible and responsive? In my mind, if someone has taken the time to read my paper, cares enough to contact me, and wants to somehow use my work, I would want to do everything I could to support that or clarify an ambiguity.

My advice: please don’t be a broken cog in this system.

It is called, after all, scientific communication.

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