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I am a beginning scholar. I recently published my first article in my field in a very good journal. The peer review went incredibly smoothly with basically no need for revisions (one reviewer gave a particularly glowing review). I even recently got an email from a scholar praising the work.

However...after setting aside the paper for awhile I picked it back up and I have found a handful of errors that escaped my notice. I'm really dissappointed that I didn't catch these when editing. The article is quite long, well over 10,000 words with a plethora of citations. I noticed I made errors in page numbers in about 6 of them -- the pages are mostly off by one. For example 305 is 304 or 27 is 28 etc. in another case, I type something along the lines of "see pages 150-151" and it should be "150-153", etc.

I also noticed a (very) minor factual error and an error in a reference (though the work can still be located easily). Altogether something like 10 mistakes. Obviously none of them affect the arguments or conclusions of the work.

The journal does not do errata, so there is no correction. I've already been thinking about how to change my editing and revision process so this kind of thing does not happen again. I've learned from this and will do better in the future (particulaly in managing sources, triple-checking details, etc). But I am feeling an incredible amount of imposter syndrome and intense anxiety. I feel like the praise I've gotten is unwarranted and that this paper is a complete mess from all of these mistakes.

I guess what I would like to ask is: is this going to be something I have to cary with me for a long time or are most people not going to notice/care? I am currently in a position where I have no one I can ask for advice, so I thought I would try my luck here.

EDIT: I should be more clear about a detail. The incorrect page numbers are on citations in the text. For example "see (John Doe 2000: 324) for comment on X." When it should be 323 etc.

I found that I had typos of this sort a couple times in the article, and what has worried me was readers deciding to look up the page numbers for the corresponding discussion and finding that that the page numbers were wrong. Particularly if this happens more than once. That's what I meant by several mistakes and the kind of thing that was really bothering me, because I wasn't sure if that was going to influence opinions of the work.

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    Everything you describe here is a non-issue and incredibly common. Except, that "[t]he peer review went incredibly smoothly with basically no need for revisions". I don't care how good you are at writing papers, I consider this a red flag (and a disservice to you as an author). It is very unlikely that your first publication couldn't be improved by revisions. It's very rare that good journals let a submission pass without revisions.
    – user9482
    Aug 4, 2022 at 5:19
  • Sorry I should have been more clear. One of the reviewers asked me to add a paragraph and a few footnotes to clarify something. The other asked to add a footnote to clarify something (and to add a detail in two places). But other than that really nothing else. Still, I am surprised at how smoothly it went.
    – Dandan
    Aug 4, 2022 at 7:23
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    Honestly when reading the title I thought your whole research was faulty. No one is gonna mind some page number mistakes. Aug 4, 2022 at 11:14
  • How often do people actually find articles in hardware journals these days? Virtually never... I don't even include page numbers on most citations anymore. As long as you've got the Name, Year, Journal and DOI (if there is one) correct, you're fine. Aug 4, 2022 at 15:50
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    @ScottishTapWater: I don't think the point of the page numbers as mentioned by the OP is to locate the article within the journal, but to specify the particular part of the article that one is referring to. Aug 4, 2022 at 19:47

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I don't know about your field (actually, you haven't mentioned it), but I am under the impression that you are really overthinking this.

For instance, many people would probably describe "confusing page numbers 27 and 28" as a typo rather than a genuine mistake. In general, it is simply impossible to right [edit: I meant "write", of course - but no, this was not on purpose... ;-)] a lengthy text without making any mistakes. Checking everything multiple times can reduce the number of mistakes, but:

  • Most likely you won't get the number of mistakes down to 0, no matter how careful and often you proofread everything. (This is just how our human brains work: when you proofread something that you have written, you simply read what should be there, not what is really there. One way to deal with this problem is to put your article away for a week or two before you proofread it; this will help a bit, but it will not solve the problem completely.)

    Personal anecdote: I'm working in pure maths, and I made it a policy for myself (during my PhD even more than now) to really very, very carefully check everything I publish, first before submission and then again before publication. At some points I was close to annoying my co-authors because I wanted to do one more double-check of a paper. But still, I'm sure that in every single of my papers you will find something which is not completely right. This will most likely not be a serious flaw in an important argument, but in some cases it might indeed still be a small mathematical inaccuracy, which is far higher on the "error scale" than the things you mentioned.

  • Beware of the law of diminishing returns! The less errors are left in your paper, the more effort you will need to find one more of them. When you're talking about things like page numbers off by one, you will somewhen reach the point where it's just a waste of time to search for further mistakes and typos.

  • You might even reach a point where, when you ge ahead with proofreading, you will probably introduce more errors than you fix - simply because at some points it becomes very difficult to focus on even more proofreading, and you are thus more likely to make mistakes.

The journal does not do errata, so there is no correction.

As I've said, I don't know your field - but in pure maths I have never seen anybody submit an erratum for any "mistake" similar as the ones you described. Please beware that publishing something (like, for instance, an erratum), adds information to a very full scientific communication channel - so make sure that what you publish adds more information than noise. If people have read your paper and see an erratum in a journal, then they will probably expect that there is some serious mistake in the paper. So they will feel obliged to check the erratum to make sure that they are not relying on false information - and if they then find that your "erratum" consists of of few corrected page numbers which were off by 1, they will most likely just be annoyed that you bothered them with the erratum.

(One thing you could consider is to upload a small file on your webpage which you name something like "minor_corrections.txt" or "minor_corrections_and_typos.pdf" and where you list those points you mentioned. But make sure that the name of the file indicates that there is nothing substantial in it, unless, of course, there is something really substantial in it.)

Concluding remark 1. Of course, nothing of what I wrote should be interpreted to the end that correctness weren't important or carelessness were alright. But it's important to properly gauge your expectations of how much correctness you can expect (from yourself and others) and to note that drawing a reasonable line somewhere does not mean to be careless.

Concluding remark 2. You just published your first paper, so it is simply natural that you put very much weight right now on everything being as perfect as possible. Thus, small issues are likely to annoy you now, which probably won't bother you much when you will find them in your fourth or tenth paper. I think this is completely normal for most of us - just make sure that you don't go crazy over it.

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    "it is simply impossible to right a lengthy text without making any mistakes" - an example to prove this!
    – Bryan Krause
    Aug 3, 2022 at 22:18
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    Also "annecdote", "no matter how careful and you often you proofread" :)
    – Bryan Krause
    Aug 3, 2022 at 22:20
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    @BryanKrause: Of course it's important to illustrate everything by as many examples as possible... :-) (Oh, but "annecdote" was a genuine mistake rather than a typo - I actually thought the spelling were correct until I read your comment.) Aug 3, 2022 at 22:24
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    Yes, and I'm sure I could proofread your entire post and still miss some error someplace, further illustrating the point!
    – Bryan Krause
    Aug 3, 2022 at 22:50
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    Thank you very much for your reply. I think you are right. Its been eating away at me probably because its my first paper. My field is in philosophy, but I am balancing texts in three languages from different traditions and the paper was written while I was on lockdown from COVID when I didn't have access to a library and other resources (I had to use electronic sources or find other creative ways to solve problems). So I think that added to me making more mistakes than I think I normally would. I have been thinking of making an errata page with minor corrections. Thank you!
    – Dandan
    Aug 4, 2022 at 7:27
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There is nothing to do and nothing to worry about. Readers can find things if the articles are correct.

Take more care in the future, but we would all be happy to make only minor errors.

Using a local proof reader is a good practice if you can arrange it.

If you have a personal website you can put errata there also.

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  • You are right. Nothing can be done and there is no reason to dwell on these things. I've certainly figured out some methods to use to make sure I find these kinds of errors in the future. I also plan on putting the errata on my personal site. Thank you for your answer. Everyone here is right, take more care in the future and just keep moving on.
    – Dandan
    Aug 4, 2022 at 7:32
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One thing you can do to help with getting references is use a tool like JabRef to manage your bibliography.

In particular, you want to make sure that you utilise DOI lookups (JabRef can do this for you with the clikc of a button) to populate the content of each entry. This way, the contents will be programmatically filled with the data coming directly from the publishers (via the DOI system).

You can then auto-generate your bibliography from the .bibtex database and you never have to worry about this again.

Unfortunately, not everything has a DOI (particularly older papers) but the vast majority of modern papers will.

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Just check the page references more carefully next time. That will not be difficult, and it will deal with most of the errors mentioned that would cause any problems for readers.

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    Depending on the app or platform used for writing, there should be a way to have page references generated automatically and thus updated whenever revisions are made (LaTeX has this feature, for example). Aug 4, 2022 at 7:48
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    @GregMartin: This is certainly the right thing to do for cross-references within an article, but I think that the wrong pages numbers mentioned by the OP (or at least some of them) rather referred to articles or books they cited. Aug 4, 2022 at 19:51
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It might be a reasonable solution to publish a pdf with the errors corrected on the internet with a comment (if that doesn't violate the publisher's copyright). In physics, you can use arxiv which allows you to add a comment regarding the errors being corrected.

If you happen to have a personal page on the web (which is seemingly a common thing nowadays, given the existence of GitHub pages and things alike) it's likely a good idea to publish a pdf there as well. Google Scholar, for instance, crawls personal pages of researchers searching for the pdfs of articles.

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I'm bringing this back from the dead...

I ended up taking a bunch of time to make corrections to my article and put the corrections on my personal website (found far more errors than I anticipated).

But!

I just got very positive reviews on a new manuscript and I feel like I will be able to do a much better job with the revisions and proofs. I am now much more conscious of how to proof a paper and keep all of my notes, sources, and other things in order (also actually have access to a library now). So I won't be making the same mistakes again.

I think I've really learned from the previous experience. The previously published paper was my first project in the field. I think the shoddy mistakes (those page errors, citation errors, reference problems, etc.) really reflect that fact. I've now got methods to triple-check my notes and everything else.

Just wanted to send my thanks to people who offered support and advice in the thread. It really did help me when I was feeling down and helped me put things into perspective. If another beginning scholar runs into the same issues, hope that reading this thread helps you out as well.

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