In one of the papers, I have mistakenly written a wrong/irrelevant word which makes the sentence vague. The sentence contains review of somebody else's work. The referee is confused and has asked for an explanation about that sentence. Shall I directly express that I have made a mistake and include the correct sentence ?

  • 1
    Is it possible that the reviewer reject paper because of this ?
    – bubucodex
    Dec 3, 2022 at 21:01
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    No, you are unlikely to get a rejection for such a thing, but you need a correction.
    – Buffy
    Dec 3, 2022 at 21:06
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    What do you think a review is for, if not for the reviewer to identify aspects of the paper that they think need work, and the author, if they agree, to address those issues? "Shall I directly express that I have made a mistake and include the correct sentence ?" As opposed to what? Obstinately insist that there's nothing wrong with the sentence, and the reviewer is just too dense to get it? Dec 6, 2022 at 1:10
  • 3
    Why would you not fix / improve the sentence? Why would you not mention that you had done so in your response to the editor? Of course, the revised manuscript would not contain any reference to the original wording, but otherwise, I don't think I understand the nature of your uncertainty. Dec 6, 2022 at 14:33
  • Just a note on proof-reading: It's really helpful to read a paper out loud before submitting it. I once had something important to send and made an obvious grammar error, but I didn't catch it till after sending. Reading aloud will really help catch such things in the future. Of course, this doesn't address your current situation. Dec 6, 2022 at 15:02

4 Answers 4


Yes, it is proper to admit to a minor error and make the correction. I'm assuming that it makes the work clearer to others as well.

Everyone makes such mistakes. There isn't any issue about it, nor about saying thanks for the "good catch".

  • 24
    It's also proper to admit a major error, too.
    – N.I.
    Dec 5, 2022 at 11:02

I agree with the excellent answer by Buffy. Your own post describes it as a mistake, so take the opportunity to correct this mistake, and thank the referee for spotting it. This is a routine part of peer review so there is no need to agonise over it. In terms of your response-to-referees you would typically write something like this:

Referee: There appears to be a grammatical error/irrelevant word in the sentence on Line 6, p. 12, such that I cannot understand its meaning.

Agree - revised: Thanks for catching this error. I have revised this sentence to make it clearer.


The reviewer was confused by the sentence, so other people will be confused as well. So it should be changed. The improvement is only small, but the change is also very small. Change the sentence to be not confusing, and notify the referee.

If you don't agree with the referee: The referee was confused, so he or she is by definition right.


Yes, you must state your error clearly and add the appropriate words. It is crucial to be open and truthful about any errors in your writing. You can apologise for the error and describe how the proper sentence should be understood in your answer to the referee. This will clear up any doubt for the referee and help them grasp the article more thoroughly. To avoid such errors, it's also crucial to properly proofread your work before submission.

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