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I am writing a mathematics paper and citing a particular reference in a peer-reviewed mathematical journal. It turns out that the result I reference is ultimately correct, but the proof has an error in it. The error is not minor, and essentially invalidates the result.

I have pointed out the error to the authors, and received a response via email with a corrected proof. I have verified this new proof to be correct, but I do not know if the authors have (or intend to) submit a correction of the article.

When citing the reference in my paper, it seems odd to cite something when I know the proof has an error in it. However, I'm not sure how to deal with this. Should I add a comment that the proof is incorrect, but that the authors have supplied corrections via email? Should I add the entire proof, including the corrections, to my paper? Should I cite the result and do nothing, since the result itself is correct?

What are the best practices in a situation such as this one?

2 Answers 2

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You should not cite the result and do nothing; the reader would then assume the original paper is correct.

Beyond that, I would suggest you do whatever the authors of the original paper would like. Send them an email and ask them how they would like you to address this in your paper. Given that they have supplied you with a correction, it seems like they are acting in good faith and are probably also thinking about the best way for this correction to be known. Mistakes happen and there is no need to further embarrass them.

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  • I can appreciate this point of view, but I also have been thinking that it's up to the original authors to issue a correction if they wish to. I also have no idea how long that would take to get published, whereas I am attempting to submit my preprint to a journal in the next few days, and cannot necessarily wait for them to update their article. Commented May 26 at 4:04
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    I think you misunderstood me. What I'm suggesting is that you simply write an email to the original authors asking them this question instead of asking us, and following whatever they suggest. I've added this clarification to the original answer. Commented May 26 at 4:06
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    That's good advice, I'll ask them. Commented May 26 at 4:09
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Yes, email them asking whether and when they will send in a Corrigendum. When they do you can cite both

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