I submitted a paper for publication several days ago. This was a resubmission after I had responded to the critique from the reviewers for my first draft. However, while I was looking at my data again, I saw that there was a section where my data points increased between phases, but I had written that they decreased. What's more, I had qualified why it made sense for the values to decrease, according to literature, so it's possible that the data I acquired was flawed. The reviewers had not marked this, and I had missed it upon reading through everything.

Apart from this, there is a missing comma and a missing word at another spot in the paper.

What I'm wondering is, is this a common occurence? And would it harm my credibility as an author/chances of getting published?

  • 1
    I fixed a typo in the question title. Are you sure "the data I acquired was flawed" is a small mistake? – scaaahu May 8 at 4:51
  • @scaaahu thank you! and these particular data points were not that important to the primary conclusions from my paper, they were explaining one additional parameter, and I may simply have needed more trials to get a better estimate – user139376 May 8 at 13:32
  • Still, the errors in the data are disturbing. Even if they don't impact the main conclusion. – Alchimista May 9 at 9:25

I can tell you with absolute certainty that almost every published paper contains at least one minor mistake. At the very least, I know that every single one of my papers has at least one typo that survived several rounds of reviews and revisions, and I can always find an error or two in every paper that I read carefully.

If the error is not a substantial one, i.e. one that significantly impacts the validity of the main results, then you shouldn't worry about it too much.

If you realize that your methodology is broken, your data is wrong, your theoretical analysis has logical flaws, your conclusions contradict known results or something of the sort, then it is worth considering taking some immediate action. The ethical thing to do would be to contact the journal's editor before the paper is published and have it retracted (as painful as that may be), and resubmit it if/when you manage to fix the problem.

For fixable mistakes found after the fact, some journals publish errata - appendices to the published paper that resolve issues found post publication.

If it's just a typo (missing comma/missing word/use of antonym) then don't stress too much. If you feel like the decrease/increase typo is in a key sentence describing your results (say, the intro/abstract, or in the sentence describing the key findings), it may be worthwhile to contact the editor and ask to resubmit a correction.


I agree with @Spark's comment that minor errors are ubiquitous, and (taking the information from your comment that the errors are indeed minor), you could contact the editor and ask if could submit a corrected version immediately.

Another thing to keep in mind is that most journals follow a procedure where they will contact you before publication with proofs for you to check. These proofs typically have a few queries from the typesetter (e.g., requesting page numbers for a reference that you left out), but you can also use them as any opportunity to make small corrections. (Technically, these are supposed to be to correct errors made by the typesetters, but in my experience you can get away with making minor corrections of your own errors at this stage.)

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