Cite, Quote, Circulate Without Permission?

Why do so many working papers say “Do not cite, quote or circulate without permission” or some variant? Moreover, why do most academics not want their working papers cited, quoted or circulated without knowing who they’ve been circulated to – even work they are presenting at an open forum, like a big conference? Should I be worried that I tag all of my working papers with “Feel free to cite, quote or distribute, but be aware that is a draft and its contents are subject to changes small and large.”? I’m trying to figure out the downside of having early versions circulating.



  1. Some guesses:

    Don’t cite w/o permission: “I’d like you to cite this, but check first so I can send you the latest version.”

    Don’t quote w/o permission: “The writeup is still pretty rough. Don’t quote me verbatim on a badly written early draft.”

    Don’t circulate w/o permission: “Don’t let this get into my rival’s hands before it’s published”. Or, “don’t let this circulate to the point that every possible reviewer has already seen it.”

  2. I suspect it’s more because working papers haven’t passed through the peer review proess yet – though I’m dubious about the added value of peer review to a working paper. From my impressions (looking at the difference between working papers and final published form), peer review only serves to make sure a working paper isn’t totally off the reservation.