Assume that I'm a beginner and I want to read a research paper on a pre-print website. Is it on the topic in mse to ask for the validity of a research paper in any pre-print websites such as arXiv etc.,

Reasons: We don't know when the review of a paper will be completed if it has been sent to a reputed journal. Authors mostly believe that their idea and procedure is correct, so there is no much gain in contacting them about its correctness.

  • This pas discussion is perhaps (at least partially) related: Would a question-series to understand a selected paper be on-topic? To a lesser extent also: Is it ok to ask about the correctness of preprints of crank friendly topics? – Martin Sleziak Oct 25 at 13:14
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    I think it's likely asking too much for math.se users to referee papers (to vouch for their credibility/correctness - or lack therof) when they have not yet been approved, or rejected, for publication in more reputable publications. – amWhy Oct 25 at 16:22
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    Voting on meta is more of a voice of opinion, in this case I would interpret it as people saying "No, this is not on topic". – Asaf Karagila Oct 25 at 20:38
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    To expand on @AsafKaragila's comment, voting on meta works differently than voting on the main site. On meta, an upvote typically means "Yes, I agree with this proposal / opinion / whatever," while a downvote typically means "No, I don't agree with this proposal / opinion / whatever." You asked the question "Are questions about the validity of preprints on topic on MSE?" The downvotes almost certainly represent people who are of the opinion that such questions are not on topic. – Xander Henderson Oct 26 at 2:33

Questions that ask whether preprints are correct are strongly discouraged.

  • Many users agree with amWhy's comment "I think it's likely asking too much for math.se users to referee papers (to vouch for their credibility/correctness - or lack thereof) when they have not yet been approved, or rejected, for publication in more reputable publications." Refereeing a paper is generally a time-consuming task, often taking many hours of the reviewer's time.

  • It is also not clear why the opinion of an anonymous user here about the correctness of the paper would be valuable. An editor chooses a referee based on the referee's expertise - we have no way to choose who might comment on a question here.

  • In some cases, although a preprint would not meet the usual standards for publication, it is hard to point to a specific "error" in the preprint. A preprint that uses unclear definitions or vague arguments could be impossible to judge objectively, apart from saying it is too unclear. In other cases, we might find a counterexample to a lemma in a paper, without knowing where the proof is flawed or whether the lemma is actually needed to prove the overall result.

  • The related concept of "not even wrong" is also applicable to some preprints. There is not much that someone could say about these papers.

Questions that ask about a specific aspect of a preprint are sometimes better, particularly if they focus on a particular mathematical aspect or argument. These should not be phrased as a way to indirectly talk about the correctness of the paper, though.

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