I noticed that one of my citations is "problematic". It is from a book, but I found a Scopus reference that show it as a conference paper, with no authors. So I thought it was simply a mistake (because the paper is very old) and added the authors of the book normally, as the book or paper were published on the same year and the chapters are in fact other revision papers, but they are all the same.

Now it came to my attention that the "authors" are in fact the editors of the book/paper, and I don't know whether I have done something wrong or not by citing them. If someone looks the reference using the "authors", volume and year they will find normally the book, but not the journal I referenced in the paper, which is from the same publisher as the book.

Would it look like plagiarism or another ethical problem just because I mixed the two references, which are identical, but are written differently?

EDIT To be more clear, my citation is similar as if I cited a whole issue of Science (Science, 4, 2010) with the author name appearing as the editors of that particular issue.

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    I'm having trouble keeping everything straight here. There's a book and a paper and a journal and a conference, and some authors and some editors...? Can you give an example, maybe your actual situation with the names/titles changed? The key questions I would ask about your citation: (1) were the proper authors credited? (2) will a reader be able to find the correct document without excessive difficulty? Jun 25, 2018 at 6:54
  • @NateEldredge the journal does not exist anymore. But apparently it used to print what they call articles (with no author name) with various reviews in it (from a number of authors). Basically, a book. So, from what I've seen, they had used one of these articles as a book, and the authors of this book, which is a compiled of several articles, are the editors. Now, what I did (dumbly, I must say) is: I used the citation for the authors as in the book, but with the article details (journal, volume etc)...
    – arw1990
    Jun 25, 2018 at 7:18
  • @NateEldredge Yes, the reader will be able to find the correct document if they search for the name of the "authors" with the date of publication. If they search for the reference as it is printed in my article, they won't find much.
    – arw1990
    Jun 25, 2018 at 7:19
  • @NateEldredge Some references cited the "book" with the editors name as authors, so I think I did cite correctly in that context. However, it would probably be better if I cited the author of the "review article/chapter" that I extracted the information from...
    – arw1990
    Jun 25, 2018 at 7:24
  • @NateEldredge To be more clear, my citation is similar as if I cited a whole issue of Science (Science, 4, 2010) with the author name appearing as the editors of that particular issue.
    – arw1990
    Jun 25, 2018 at 8:19

1 Answer 1


You honestly attempted to make a citation, but made some mistakes in providing the correct information. This happens sometimes and absolutely is not plagiarism because you were clearly not trying to pass off others’ work as yours.

What you are responsible for is making sure the error is fixed. If the manuscript has not been published then all you need to do is correct the reference in a revision or at the proof stage. If the article has been published you should contact the editors for guidance about the best way to proceed.

  • Thank you for your answer. The paper is already published. As I said previously, the source is quite old, and it was presented as in an article with other articles compiled, as in chapters (this compiled had a title, journal number, volume and pages, but no author). And it also was presented as a book. I basically mixed the two forms of citation, adding authors to the compiled of articles. I don't know if this would qualify as something for an erratum, since the information I provided, even though mixed, still is somewhat correct...
    – arw1990
    Jun 25, 2018 at 8:10
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    @arw1990 I suggest you first write out the most accurate citation that you can, using the information that you now have. Then compare this new citation with the one that was published and ask whether there is a real benefit in correcting the publication, either in ensuring that the right people get credit for the work or in enabling the reader to find it. (The answer is likely to be "yes".) If so, then write to the editor asking that a correction of the citation be published. Jun 25, 2018 at 17:46

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