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I just discovered that the postdoc application I submitted two days ago contains a typo. It's likely due to accidentally touching my keyboard before the final compile. I mistakenly added a character to the journal name where my manuscript is currently under review. Should I send an email to the prospective professor to correct the typo?

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  • So in my letter, Animal was written as Animcal
    – shukurra
    Jul 7, 2023 at 17:51
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    This is only peripheral to the actual question asked, so I put it as a comment rather than an answer: typos aside, please beware that some people do not appreciate it when they read this "submitted to ..." info in CVs. As one data point, from my point of view putting this on a CV is superfluous at best and could actually be considered as somewhat presumptuous. Jul 7, 2023 at 23:43
  • One of the biggest journals in our field, called "Journal of XY", puts a note on manuscripts under review that this submission to "Journal for XY" has to be kept confidential...
    – Mark
    Jul 13, 2023 at 19:33
  • @Mark Does your field use double-blind review? That would seem to be a good reason for this policy if so. Jul 14, 2023 at 13:03
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    @shukurra Everyone includes "under review" manuscripts in their CV. The issue is that many people don't say where they are under review. Jul 17, 2023 at 8:14

5 Answers 5

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No, you should not send an email to correct the typo.

The professor probably receives dozens or hundreds of emails every day, and an additional email to bring up a tiny mistake will likely not be appreciated. We all make typos sometimes. There is a chance they won't even notice, but if you send the email they definitely will notice.

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  • Also if the professor knows this journal they'll likely overlook the typo in its name.
    – iBug
    Jul 9, 2023 at 6:48
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Nobody cares. Mistakes happen in life. Reserve your emotional energy, your time, and the time of others to those things that matter. Typos in journal names, somewhere in the middle of a CV, do not.

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I always thought typos were disastrous-- until I sat on a committee reading applications and selecting candidates for a major fellowship. Absolutely no one on the committee cared at all about a typo (or typos) on an application. The content was key, not the minor errors. So don't worry about a typo, and there is no need for you send a follow-up email.

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In contrast to another answer here, yes, I think you should send that email. A postdoc application is important enough to warrant a follow-up. For a casual mail, probably not.

Sending this shows that you are aware of the error and not ashamed to admit to an error. That is a better message to send than that you are oblivious.

Just add that you are sorry you didn't notice before you hit "send".

I wouldn't be bothered at all receiving such a mail. Just keep it short.

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    I think this depends on the significance of the mistake in question. If the OP had mistyped the date of their PhD degree, or their email address, or something like that - sure, send a correction. But an obvious, easily-recognised and low-significance typo does not meet that test. I wouldn't be upset to receive it, but it would make me question the applicant's sense of perspective.
    – avid
    Jul 8, 2023 at 9:43
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    If you do send an e-mail, please be 101% sure that every goddamn t is crossed, every i is dotted, every comma placed and every line formatted perfectly in the cv and in the e-mail. It would be way too embarrassing if you send an e-mail about a typo in your CV and then it turns out that there's another two in the cover letter.
    – DonQuiKong
    Jul 8, 2023 at 12:02
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If that paper is an important contribution that will enhance your application. Send a pre-print and apologize for an apparent typo in your CV.

Otherwise do nothing and let it slide. If it comes up in an interview apologize for the oversight.

Simply sending a email with a correction of a single word carries more risks than rewards.

If you can use it to open a line of communication proactively then it will likely be better appreciated.

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