I recently submitted my first ever conference abstract, and then discovered after submission deadline that in one of my citations I forgot to add "et al." even though the cited paper has multiple authors. So now only the primary author is cited in the text, even though all authors are, of course, included in the reference list. Stupid mistake, I know, and I'm really kicking myself about it. Especially because the mistake was simply a brain fart - I do know how to cite properly.

My question is - if the abstract is otherwise consistent and of high quality, may the abstract still be accepted despite the citation mistake? All other citations in the abstract are correct. There is just this one slip-up which I'm now afraid may cause my abstract to be rejected even though I am convinced the actual research is of sufficient quality for acceptance.


It's not an uncommon mistake, and if we were to reject all papers and abstracts that have citation mistakes, the publication rate would probably drop to nearly zero.

may the abstract still be accepted despite the citation mistake?

Yes, sure.

To avoid this kind of error in the future, you can try to write your papers with LaTeX, using its bibliographical tools.

  • OK, thanks a lot! I got a bit worried since this is my first conference abstract, but this is reassuring to know :). – Kristian Jan 16 '16 at 14:12
  • I don't see how using LaTeX would help here, since one generally doesn't use \cite in abstracts anyway -- the abstract should stand on its own, without needing the list of references to be attached. Thus, the problem is that the asker typed Smith when they meant to type Smith et al. and that would be that same in LaTeX, Word or any other document preparation system. – David Richerby Jan 16 '16 at 17:54
  • Also, I don't think it's reasonable to claim that almost every paper contains citation errors. I'm pretty sure that the great majority of my own papers contain no citation errors more serious than a typo in the page numbers. Sure, this kind of mistake in an abstract isn't at all critical but to claim that essentially every paper does it is ridiculous. – David Richerby Jan 16 '16 at 17:55
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    @DavidRicherby The OP is asking about a conference abstract, not abstracts in papers. And, yes, LaTeX can help in those. Of course, I have exaggerated a bit the claim, but if you look carefully, you'll find that a great deal of papers have small mistakes in the citations: it might be year, page numbers, names misspelled, acronyms not correctly capitalized etc. – Massimo Ortolano Jan 16 '16 at 18:01
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    @DavidRicherby You're using LaTeX in the wrong way ;-) You should let the command \cite write "Smith et al.": see, e.g., this answer on TeX.SE. – Massimo Ortolano Jan 16 '16 at 18:45

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