I am in a situation that might seems a bit odd. I published my research work in a pretty good journal. However, I believe that peer review wasn’t very strict (in my opinion). And this work is basically my supervisor’s best article ever published. Quite some time has passed, and now I can see some flaws in my publication as I have more experience in this topic. However, my supervisor has been posting this paper everywhere, made a lot of news.

It makes me really anxious, I feel stressed that if some experts see it, they might have some questions. I talked to my supervisor about it and he said that I should just prepare for all possible questions. My question is whether I should just tell him to stop, because now he is even translating that paper into Chinese to post it on some Chinese websites. I basically just want to graduate and if something happens to the published paper (correction or even retraction) I won’t be able to graduate as it is a requirement to have published a paper.

Note 1: By flaws I mean, probably (not 100% sure) insufficient data to make a final conclusion or poor statistical analysis, no misconduct or fake results.

Note 2: My supervisor didn’t participate in that research and his research area is far from my paper’s topic. He just put his name as a co-first author. Everything was done solely by me and wasn’t checked before submission. I totally understand that I should be responsible for all the possible mistakes, but to my defense I can say that at the time I was writing a paper, I really had 0 experience in manuscript preparation or real research in general and I just did the best I could. The paper still shows some novelty, but is maybe not fully polished.

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    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Jun 18 at 19:03

5 Answers 5


If you clearly state your question, you're more likely to get better answers. Everyone makes mistakes. So, there's no need to worry excessively beforehand. If you feel the errors significantly impact your results, you can always publish a corrigendum in the journal. As long as you haven't acted unethically (e.g., falsifying data), a mistake shouldn't be detrimental. This is how scientific research progresses. The key is that your research prompts people to think critically about the question or sparks new inquiries. If that's achieved, then you've successfully accomplished your mission (at least in my opinion).

Don't worry excessively about a correction unless your paper gets retracted, which is unlikely unless there's ethical misconduct. Therefore, if you're hesitant to publish a corrigendum, that's perfectly fine. You can wait until you graduate. In the other scenario, where another researcher identifies a flaw and publishes a comment/corrigendum paper, it's still okay. Remember, writing a comment paper and contacting the editor is time-consuming. In high-ranking journals, this process involves peer review, so publishing a comment paper could take months depending on the field.

There's nothing wrong with promoting your research. This is how research is disseminated nowadays. Your advisor probably wants to expand their network and reach a wider audience.

  • 6
    Thank you, I think your answer really helps me calm down.
    – nArA
    Commented Jun 16 at 19:49
  • 6
    Maybe instead of a correction, a follow-up paper would be suitable. Add more or better data, give use cases that cite your paper, add things you learned by talking to others after presenting your work.
    – usr1234567
    Commented Jun 17 at 7:49

TLDR: What to do? Thank your professor for promoting your work and seek help dealing with insecurity.

Longer answer: ALL work has flaws. That is, just about every paper ever written has something wrong and, if you ask people to look at work they wrote when they were just starting out, they will see flaws.

Your work impressed your professor. That's good! OK, maybe you fooled them, some professors are easily fooled, but most are not. But you also published in a "pretty good journal". Hmmm. So you also fooled not just the peer reviews but also the editor. Do good journals sometimes publish bad work? Yeah. It happens. But not often (that's part of the reason they are good journals!)

Another thing you could do is publish more papers, which correct any flaws in your earlier paper.

And, by suggesting that you seek help, I was not in any way trying to insult you. Lots of people have trouble with this. One comment links to work about imposter syndrome, so, it's at least common enough to have a syndrome named for it.


You should call it 'limitation', not a flaw/mistake. They are two different things.

Newton's law is 'flawed' but high school students are still learning it.

Every study is 'flawed' in some sense if you are strict enough. E.g. in statistical analysis, for the normality check, we can say there is not enough evidence to show that it is not Normal distribution, not that we can confirm it is from a Normal distribution. However, almost everyone uses this to justify the Normal assumption.

  • Yes, I just want to say they are 'flaw' if using the OP standard. Commented Jun 17 at 4:12
  • 1
    Thanks for clarifying. The list of “mistakes” is as follows: 6 typos including wrong units instead of ng/mg i wrote ng/ng ( it doesn’t influence the final results), no error bar in one figure, one figure x axis starts from -200, it should start from 0, one procedure citation is incorrect (it cites the paper that has nothing to do with this procedure), and finally, in the final experiment I didn’t use any analytical test such as ANOVA, so I dont have a p value which might be important to draw a final conclusion.
    – nArA
    Commented Jun 17 at 5:11
  • 20
    @nArA If the list is real, I can tell you that they are very very minor, almost nobody care, we are interested in the scientific content. Commented Jun 17 at 6:58
  • 3
    @nArA That last one isn't even a mistake.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Jun 17 at 17:23

I do not want to be rude or anything, but just as an added comment, because your second note rubbed me the wrong way.

In case the "flaws" are really just minor you don't have to worry, as others have said already.

But if they were substantial (and could be considered academic misconduct) - I am not saying that the are (!), then it certainly doesn't matter that you didn't know better, you still did wrong and flawed papers should not stand uncorrected or unretracted because the person who wrote them had inadequate guidance. And it definitely doesn't matter either that you might not be able to graduate shold someone bring the flaws to light.

  • 4
    I do not think that making mistakes is an academic misconduct. There are many scholars who had flaws in their papers that change the results. However, they are not blamed for academic misconduct and there is a reason for that. Commented Jun 17 at 10:35

There is a big range of options here.The worst case is when you become aware of defects so great that the only honest thing to do is to retract the publication. The best case is that on thinking some more you identify related research questions for follow on work.

It sounds like you are in the difficult ground in the middle of this range. So it is hard to advise you.

Are there any opportunities to present this work at a conference? In the conference presentation you can explain what you consider proven, and which questions remain open.

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