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I reviewed a manuscript which used my work. I recommended acceptance with minor revisions. Only after submitting my review, my wife discovered that my name is misspelled once in the manuscript. I'm a young scholar who would very much like to have one more citation. I sent an email to the editorial office about this but they never answered. Question: is it ok if I contact the author via email to tell him that I saw his manuscript -not confirming or denying that I was a reviewer- and ask him to please correct that mistake in proofs? In my experience people not always catch those by themselves, and because I recommended minor revision I don't think I'll see the manuscript again.

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    "to tell him that I saw his manuscript" Several answers/comments seem to assume that this would somehow reveal that you were the reviewer or otherwise affiliated with the review process. But this is far from clear to me. For instance, in several fields it is quite common to make preprints available on some preprint server. If this is the case for the article you are referring to, this might have an impact on the answers. Could you clarify whether a preprint of the article is publically available? Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 7:19
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    Is your name misspelled in the text or references section? If the former, it shouldn't affect citation counts. Even in the latter case, it probably won't make a difference for bibliographic metrics, unless it's a severe misspelling and the paper is not otherwise easily identifiable by the bib info.
    – Kimball
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 8:29
  • Since the correction of the manuscript at that stage is far more in the control of the editorial office/journal, I would push in that direction. Once the proof is sent out, the authors have few opportunities to correct typos.
    – Greg
    Commented Aug 10, 2022 at 5:29

4 Answers 4

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That is probably a bad idea.

But you can ask the editor to make the request instead. They won't want typos in the final result.

In general, communication with authors should be through the editor. Not the "editorial office" but the editor who assigned you the paper. An individual.

You are actually owed a response for this since you spent effort on behalf of the journal.

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I agree with the other answers that an email, or a followup email to the handling editor is appropriate. Alternatively, if a preprint exists this would offer "plausible deniability" when contacting the author themselves (in case the editor remains incommunicado).

Be advised that a typo in a "citation" in the manuscript text along the lines of "user354948 et al. found that this discombobulation method did not reliably discombobulate" would not generally matter in terms of having your citation counted. Only the reference in the appendix is counted, e.g. by Google Scholar.

As an added point that has not yet been addressed: You mention your wife noticed the typo in the draft for peer review. Since you yourself state you are an early career scientist, I would just note for the future that peer review is generally supposed to happen strictly confidentially. Showing manuscripts you are peer reviewing to other people without the editor's consent is usually inappropriate.

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    I didn't show it to her, she looked over my shoulder.
    – user354948
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 10:33
  • Then disregard the last paragraph :) I just stumbled over it while reading the question, is all.
    – Grumperson
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 11:12
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If you saw their manuscript, you either are affiliated with the journal and in a better place to make the correction than they are, you're a reviewer, or a reviewer leaked the paper to you (and therefore they breached confidentiality).

Option one doesn't make much sense and doesn't apply. Option three is a pretty serious accusation that puts your colleagues under suspicion. The author may even feel the need to share this with the editor so they can identify the person responsible. Basically, either the authors should assume you're a reviewer or they should be ticked off.

Go through the journal instead. It seems you've already done this, and though it would be nice for them to have replied I'd note that they don't actually have to reply to you to make the correction. It's probably in their best interests to keep people happy who are willing to review for them. It's probably okay to send a follow-up email if some time has passed.

Note also that a misspelling likely doesn't remove attribution of credit to you; citation information is redundant by design, and your work should be findable with an incorrect or absent name.

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I wouldn't do anything. It's just one citation. Remember, the number of citations looks impressive in your CV only when they are many. You shouldn't care much about one citation.

Besides, the typo may be found and corrected in the publication process. I remember receiving an article proof with a reference corrected by the publisher. I guess that publishers routinely check references for correctness and have automated systems for that.

Also, since the typo is only in your name, the reader will be able to find the referenced paper anyway by the bibliographical data provided in the reference (journal name, volume, page number, and publication year).

You say in a comment below, "I emailed the managing editor," so my understanding is that you are considering a further action. I don't think that a further action will really harm, but it may be seen as weird or embarrassing, especially if you contact the author.


My advice is: focus on doing great research. Think how you can advance science by doing something really important and useful. Think how you can write a paper that will be cited hundreds of times. Think big. You shouldn't waste your time and energy worrying about petty things like a single citation. Remember, your success will be determined by your mentality.


It looks like I have to clarify the point of my answer. If you want to become a great scientist, you have to learn one important skill - the skill to ignore unimportant things. Otherwise they will eat up your time and energy. Sure, you can now fix the issue with the citation, but don't become obsessed by fixing things like this.

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    Sorry, but this is bad advice. Hoping for the best when a simple email to the editor can solve the issue is suboptimal. Errors in papers, even small ones, are a problem even when unrelated to citations.
    – Buffy
    Commented Aug 7, 2022 at 13:09
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    @Buffy The OP said, "I sent an email to the editorial office about this but they never answered." That is, the OP has already done what you suggest. My understanding is that the OP is asking as to what to do next. And my advice is, do nothing. It's not worth for the OP to pursue the issue with the reference any further.
    – Sandra
    Commented Aug 7, 2022 at 13:20
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    And I can see how communication with the "editorial office" can result in no communication. If you have the name of an individual and the email, use that. It is actually their job to keep errors out of papers. It is their specific responsibility. Helping them do their job isn't "weird". Guessing it will work out is suboptimal. Since the OP here spent effort on behalf of the journal, they are owed a response.
    – Buffy
    Commented Aug 7, 2022 at 13:34
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    Oh, @Sandra. 18 years successively as PhD student, postdoc, and faculty member, and my cumulative citation count remains stubbornly in the tens, not the thousands. I suspect my experience is the more typical. Commented Aug 7, 2022 at 13:56
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    @user354948 don't worry - the number of citations varies widely between fields, and even between topics within a field, without saying anything about quality or success. The correct person to contact would be the editor handling the submission and reviews. You can usually find their name in the email where they invited you to review - their "label" depends on the journal...
    – Mark
    Commented Aug 7, 2022 at 15:07

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