While searching through various journals with my library's on-line journal search tools, I have occasionally found short articles which are simply comments on other published papers. These short articles might have various kinds of comments, but generally describe why the first paper's research or theories are flawed. In addition, sometimes I have found replies from the original author of the first paper, responding to these comments, for e.g., to clarify the meaning or perhaps to give further support to their original arguments.
- Do such exchanges generally only occur within the same journal, i.e. the responses are published in the same journal, or can these occur across journals?
- Are there any special tools to assist with locating all of these "replies"?
First, it may depend on your field, but at least in mine (physics and chemistry), it is rare for papers to generate comments or replies, and really extraordinary for a paper to be followed by multiple comments. (The editor usually lets the original authors reply to the comment, however.)
Some publishers provide links to the comments and replies on the webpage for the original paper. Otherwise, you can locate those comments using the following criteria:
- they are published in the same journal, or in a preprint server (like arxiv)
- their title includes “comment on” or “reply to” (or other such publisher-dependent prefix that you need to identify)
Finally, you should get the list of all newer papers citing the original paper, and check them out. If you're investigating a paper in depth, you’ll do that anyway :)