Briefly speaking, I recently found out that my graduate research paper has some citation errors. Which is really poor citations.

  1. I cited a wrong author name (author A) for a sentence which actually came from another author (author B). However, I did cite both authors in my reference list.
  2. Some of my figures' citations didn't follow the correct format. I did cite the author and date, just in the wrong format.

I am not sure how serious these problems can be. Are these errors considered as plagiarism?

I really didn't copy anyone's works, just gave wrong citations. I know this is very dumb and not professional. I feel pretty guilty and anxious right now.

I have further look into my thesis. I summarize with my citation errors as following (except the previous errors):

  1. I cited a source in-text (author, date, source), but forget to put in my reference list.
  2. I cited a web source, but it is actually came from a report. I cited as an internet source.
  3. Misspelling.
  4. Wrong order number of tables/figures.

My thesis now looks like a total trash to me. So my next question is: What is my next move?

  1. Erratum maybe?
  2. Notify my professor?
  3. Let it go? (This is a master thesis, unpublished, but public.)

First one is kinda useless, because my school does not accept any revision or change.
My first priority is to not commit any misconduct/dishonet.


2 Answers 2



1 is sloppy, and you should take care to avoid things like that in the future. But you were not trying to pretend it was your original idea or phrase.

2 is nothing like misconduct of any kind. It is only an issue of style.

Update (four new points):

These are all sloppy, but not misconduct or dishonest.

Make a list of all the errors and a new version of the thesis. Send them to your professor and say you would like to correct the public version or at least attach a list of errata. Follow whatever the professor recommends, except that if they say you can't do anything, then perhaps you could put the errata on your own personal website.

For point 4, in the future you should consider using software or software features that does the numbering of tables and figures automatically, which would make this kind of mistake impossible.

It is good that your first priority is to avoid misconduct. And as far as I can see from these mistakes, you have not committed anything like misconduct.


This community wiki answer was created from a high quality answer-in-the-comments.

I am an academic misconduct officer at my university and look into these things. Clearly you made an effort and didn't try to cover up anything (or copy and paste text and claimed it as your own). Without having seen your work, I would put it down as poor academic practice but not plagiarism. The reference are there but not correctly formatted / cited. If it helps you, read any scientific paper and look through their references, chances are you will find inconsistencies even at that level. I wouldn't worry too much about it. If it does bother you, you can always put in a correction.

I also recommend this video showing what real academic misconduct looks like. After seeing that, I think your citation mistake will not look as bad in comparison

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