I recently got a paper published. One of the affiliations (for the 4th author, more precisely) is right but it has a misspelling in the address of his university. The right address is "University X, Street y, no.1780" but we published as "University X, Street y, no.1879". Is it problematic enough to ask for a corrigendum if the other data about the affiliation (without the number) is right?

  • 77
    Go down the street, demolish whatever is in the number 1879, construct a new university there, force everybody to change places, demolish the previous university. If there is no number 1879, extend the street even if this means to demolish some buildings, put a number 1879 in this street, construct a new university there, force everybody to change places, demolish the previous university.
    – Red Banana
    May 20 at 5:58
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    @BillyRubina It would be easier to highlight the current university, then press Ctrl-X, Backspace and Ctrl-V!
    – TripeHound
    May 20 at 6:26
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    @BillyRubina but then you have created endless typos in published papers, from those who were educated enough to correctly spell their address, and are now forced to your new building; or do you only care about your own paper??? (TripeHound causes the same.) No, at the new address you just need to put a shed with a mailbox, and deliver the mail once a forthnight or so (paper mail senders don't care about speed, clearly) to the old, correct address. May 20 at 18:37
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    @user3445853 I see. Then it's better to go to number 1879, demolish whatever is in there (or extend the street as described previously), construct another building and connect 1780 to 1879 with a tunnel or pedestrian bridge such as this one. And define this new bulding (1780 + 1879 + Bridge/Tunnel) as the university. This is really elegant because even if people don't know that the new university changed, the mail won't be delivered incorrectly. Also: If we want to extend the university further, employees just need to make more typos!
    – Red Banana
    May 20 at 18:50
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    @user3445853 And if we receive mail from the previous building owner, we can just throw it into the garbage bin or stay with it, if it's something interesting.
    – Red Banana
    May 20 at 18:51

You should not do anything about this. Nobody will use this information for anything.

Do not assume your coauthor was responsible. It could be the journal.


This mistake does not matter at all. In the extremely unlikely case that anyone is actually going to use this particular address to send physical mail to your co-author, it would in all likelihood still reach them.

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    This. The postal delivery person for that route knows where the university is and can make sure the mail gets delivered properly.
    – shoover
    May 19 at 15:50
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    @nick012000 I don't think the delivery people will be replaced by robots until these are capable of enough abstraction to notice and fix such errors ;) Additionally mail sorting systems are already extremely error-tolerant. My brother works for the Swiss post in IT on such systems: Simple spelling errors are by far not enough to throw them off track. Rarely ever hand-sorting is needed and in most such cases the error is so massive that also the human mind and abstraction has no chance to fix it. Sorting systems can already handle most errors humans can. May 20 at 5:36
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    "I don't think the delivery people will be replaced by robots until these are capable of enough abstraction to notice and fix such errors" Amazon already has.
    – nick012000
    May 20 at 5:38
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    Intentionally introducing a typo sounds like a great way to avoid unsolicited spam, actually. May 20 at 6:34
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    @nick012000 Mail sorting is completely automated in the UK. The only thing that really matters on a snail-mail envelope is the post code (equivalent to USA Zip code, though the format is completely different) and for residential addresses the house number. An organization as big as a university would have a unique post code so the "house number" part is irrelevant.
    – alephzero
    May 20 at 9:38

It happened to me in a recent paper. Luckily this was not yet printed and only in the "first online" format (but after final approval of myself and co-authors).

The mistake was that they (not sure who "they" is whether the editors or us) had placed San Francisco (California, USA) in China and it appeared as "San Francisco, China" in the official paper. The mistake was only noticed a few months later by a colleague.

I reached out to the editorial board mentioning it and they changed it almost instantly. Again, this was prior to printing, but already beyond final approval by the authors.

In any case, I don't think it matters too much. I doubt anyone reads it. I'm sure I don't.

  • 13
    that's pretty funny. I'd definitely keep a copy of that paper, even if just to show it to friends and ask them to find a mistake on page 1.
    – sleepy
    May 19 at 14:48
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    @sleepy Asking friends to find a mistake seems risky. They'll surely find some other silly typo you made yourself but never noticed :)
    – Anyon
    May 19 at 19:00
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    @Anyon Yeah, and that one will inevitably be a missing minus sign in front of the third term in Equation 1, which is central to the whole paper. Some things you'd rather never know.
    – TooTea
    May 20 at 8:14
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    Likely, someone mis-typed "CA" as "CN". In a similar vein, my daughter was born in Canada. She was living in the San Francisco bay area when she had her daughter. As grandfather, I was charged with running the "get the birth certificate paperwork done" set of errands. The hospital showed my daughter as having been born in "Montreal, CN", I pointed out that "CN" was China, that Canada was "CA". "We don't use 'CA', it causes too many errors". So, I took that paperwork to the city. Sure enough, the first try at a birth certificate had the mother (my daughter) born in Montreal, China
    – Flydog57
    May 21 at 19:03

I have several papers where my university affiliation has changed after acceptance but before actual publication. Another reason I use my gmail and not university email for email contact - it tends to be a bit more permanent.

The affiliation address (I believe) is mainly for your university to get credit for the research done there.

  • But any public email address attracts a lot of spam. Ever since my (university) email address became public through my first publication the number of spam mails I recieved skyrocketed. I would not put my personal email address on a paper. Maybe a separate address for such correspondence?
    – And
    May 20 at 7:23
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    Sure, but gmail has (much) better spam filters, compared to universities in general. Also, I do not think people in academia are good spam/scam targets. May 20 at 7:43
  • "I use my gmail and not university email for email contact - it tends to be a bit more permanent." --> Hmmm, Min university email address still good since the 1990s. Gmail started 2004. YMMV. May 20 at 13:11
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    @chux-ReinstateMonica: For most of us, the permanency is more about career plans. If you move university then that email will (usually) expire; but you can take Gmail with you wherever you go. Most junior academics expect to have to move within a few years; many more established academics may still want to plan for the possibility of it.
    – PLL
    May 20 at 13:49

So i'll echo what the others said and say the don't worry about it and do nothing. Also your not alone, I once tried to work out which universities where citing my work. I gave up when when i realized it was more surprising when two papers agreed on the same address for the same department than when people got the address wrong. Its amazing how many ways people can format (and spell) their own departments address wrong.

At least you spelled the universities name correct (which is the main thing to get right, as if anyone cared to send you a letter though the post then I assume the University would be able to eventually find you even if some of the numbers where wrong), which is more than some people accomplish.

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