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In a dissertation, I noticed a mistake in referencing. In such a way that the material related to reference number 17 was mistakenly attributed to reference number 18 and it seems like a typo error. I wanted to know if this is an example of scientific misconduct? Two references are mentioned in the reference list and it seems to be a typographical error. This thesis has been defended and published.

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    An isolated incident of a typo is absolutely not scientific misconduct. Scientists are human. If you don't mind me asking: why are you interested in this question, and are you asking as a student / aspiring researcher, as someone who knows the person who made this mistake, or as a senior researcher? Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 13:30

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Honest mistakes are not misconduct. They're still mistakes and should be corrected if possible.

Too many mistakes or extreme errors might drift into misconduct by being negligent, but not everyone thinks that way. This is not one of them, in any case, as long as there was no intent to deceive.

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    I have accepted this but was taught something very different just entering university - that intent had no applicability to academic misconduct and that mistakenly citing "C McRab" when you meant "C McRabb" was as evil an act as copying your entire dissertation, the penalty which was automatic course failure and recommendation for expulsion. The explanation given was that readers don't and can't know what your intentions were, so the very fact that the reader was deceived is enough to "get" you on a misconduct charge. I lost so many hours checking, rechecking, and checking everything again. Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 1:17
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    @RobertColumbia I've never heard of it working that way; to the contrary, some very obvious intentional misconduct like image manipulation has been very difficult to convince journals and universities to take seriously as a problem. Perhaps for the purposes of a particular course an instructor might set a draconian policy like that. I could maybe see an issue if ref 18 was the author's own work or something, but otherwise they have absolutely nothing to gain by attributing something to ref 18 when they meant 17. Still, it is quite sloppy especially with tools available to avoid it.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 1:22
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    "mistakenly citing "C McRab" when you meant "C McRabb" was as evil an act as copying your entire dissertation, the penalty which was automatic course failure and recommendation for expulsion." << Is that a joke? If anyone who misspelled my name was expulsed from university, there wouldn't be anyone left in my university department.
    – Stef
    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 14:37
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    @RobertColumbia I find it hard to take seriously anyone who would tell you that a typographical error is "evil" or on the same level as plagiarising a dissertation and deserves failing a course or being recommended for expulsion.
    – KCd
    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 15:48
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    @RobertColumbia "The explanation given was that readers don't and can't know what your intentions were" the readers can't know your intentions, but they ought to be able to apply common sense and if in doubt apply Hanlon's razor ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon's_razor ). This is nothing more than than "Golden Rule" (treat others the way you would reasonably expect to be treated if the positions were reversed). In this case, the reader can find out all they need to know by reading references 17 and 18 (which is after all what references are for). Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 15:51
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The presence of "revisions" and "corrections" for dissertations alone logically suggests that errors are an expected part of the process.

I'd regard this as so minor that if the dissertation has already been published, it wouldn't even require a correction, unless corrections are simple to achieve. A small amount of critical thinking will get the reader to the right reference, the authors of those ideas have been given credit in the piece, and that this is probably sufficient. This is, in the grand scheme of things, no worse than a confusingly phrased paragraph.

Academic misconduct requires some evidence of intent or negligence, I'd argue.

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