6

I had an accepted paper at a production stage, when I became aware of a technical error, which I was able to fix (in case it matters: the field is mathematics, and even though the claims I made in my paper were correct, they did not have adequate proofs in the earlier version). When I sent the correct version to the journal, they told the production team to halt the publication of my paper, and sent the new manuscript to the editorial team and the original reviewer as the change was deemed significant.

A few months in, while presumably the new edition was under review, the production team published my old manuscript with the gap anyway even though they were not supposed to. When I let the production team of this incident, they maintained that only thing they could do now was to publish an addendum.

While this response seems reasonable (while it's regrettable that they made this mistake), the details of their response seem odd.

First of all, on the addendum, they said:

What we can do is issue an addendum notice (NOT an error notice such as an erratum and corrigendum) and note any additional information that was present in that revision to the addendum. I.e., “Post-publication, _____ was brought to our attention. In this addendum, we lay out additional research/information/etc….” and then proceed to include any of the additional revision work that was intended to be included in the original article.

The language the production team suggested is not precise (as the gap was spotted before the publication) and puts me under a slightly worse light, unless by "i.e." they meant "e.g.," in which case I can say what I see fit.

Also, the production team erroneously believe that I have several papers in production with their journal, which is not true. This shows that I may have confused the production team; I certainly do not want, e.g., to have both versions of my paper published.

Unfortunately, when I asked them for clarification regarding these details, they stopped communicating with me. How should I proceed with the conundrum?

3
  • 10
    Discuss this with the handling editor, not the production team. Jan 7, 2023 at 13:06
  • 7
    I once managed to convince the editor-in chief to republish the entire paper because of mistakes by the production team. Publishing an addendum is not always a good option since mistakes by the production team can make the paper unreadable even with an addendum. While this is not your case, on one of math papers (not mine) the production team replaces all the inequality signs with the number 4. The published addendum "all instances of the number 4 in the paper should be replaced with the > sign, did not help at all. Jan 7, 2023 at 16:46
  • 2
    I agree with @Alexander Woo that you should be discussing this with the relevant editor. I recall seeing a paper where the journal published the correct version of the paper, accompanied by an apology for having previously published a version that they had messed up. Jan 7, 2023 at 22:43

2 Answers 2

7

They screwed up, all that's left is to pick up the pieces.

First, they can't retract your paper and republish it with the missing information, because once a paper is published it goes out to all subscribers & other venues besides. It will have metadata, a DOI, etc., and those can't be retracted. So the only thing they can do is publish an addendum.

The question is what to put in the addendum. You could suggest an accurate version - "this paper was erroneously published without the following ...". The production team should agree to this version. If they don't, message the journal's editors and see if you can convince them - their words carry a lot of weight.

By the way it seems rather unlikely to me that they are ignoring you. Maybe they have already approached and are discussing with the journal editors?

1
  • "Maybe they have already approached and are discussing with the journal editors?" This hadn't occurred to me.
    – Pteromys
    Jan 7, 2023 at 17:50
5

You can keep talking to the editor or you can just accept it. They may be firm in their decision, however.

It seems like the journal is trying to cover up for a mistake, which is something not unusual, I suppose.

While their "solution" is a bit messy, the important thing to remember is that your "fix" will be published.

For a print journal it is difficult to publish a corrected version, even for an online publication, changes can invalidate subsequent work of others. This is likely part of the decision they made, in addition to covering up their error.

Long term, it probably makes little difference. Figure out how to best spend your time.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .