As a PhD student major in statistics, this question actually has bothered me for a long time. I am always not quite sure if it is appropriate to discuss this somewhat sensitive topic publicly. Finally I decided to bring it out because today when I was reading a proof of paper A, it cited one result of paper B (then made a very obscure conclusion which contains some notation never appeared before). OK, then I looked up this result in paper B, astonishingly, this result in paper B also has severe, if not fatal, mistakes. (Again, I am not sure if it's appropriate to list the papers and journals published them, if there are no ethical problems, I can give them later).

It is the fourth year of my PhD, and I have read numerous statistical research papers. However, honestly, only around 10% of them can I finish reading completely. And the reason I gave up reading is that they have too many typos or too big bugs that I can't get away with.

It might not be an exaggeration that almost every paper I have read has more or less typos --- small typos are fine since anyway papers are written by people and people made mistakes. Nevertheless, some papers involve essential logic mistakes/blurriness that are beyond readers' fix ability (like I encountered today). Monographs seem also suffer similar quality problems. For example, when I went through a monograph in my research field, I took down the typos and mistakes I met. It has around 300 pages, I managed to reading until page 187 and found 111 typos (then I quit), which means more than one typo appeared every two pages. The author of the book is a leading figure in this field and I believe the press is also prestigious.

To summarize, my question is: Why are there many (not immaterial) typos and errors in publications?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Enthusiastic Engineer, J-Kun, Flyto, louic, user153812 Jun 11 '18 at 4:46

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    "papers are written by people and people made mistakes" - I think you answered your own question. – ff524 Apr 20 '16 at 5:32
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    That's for general typographical errors. However, some are big and obvious mistakes that I think should be examined out during the review session. Also, for some publications, the frequency of making mistakes is too high to be acceptable (as a publication). – Zhanxiong Apr 20 '16 at 5:35
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    Your style is clumsy; your post has multiple typos/grammar issues (beginning with the title); and you claim to complain about grammar and typos in published papers (I take this as a troll post because it's just too ironic)? Also, I sincerely doubt that you found even one error in a stats paper in a reputable journal that wasn't already pointed out later in a corrigendum. – gnometorule Apr 20 '16 at 5:36
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    @gnometorule As an international student, I know my writing is not good enough. And certainly I am not complaining the grammatical errors in the paper. I also understand this question can be controversial, so please help edit my post to make it clearer. – Zhanxiong Apr 20 '16 at 5:38
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    OK, given you accept that you are weak in English, how did you get so confident in your ability to spot typos in English-language publications? Are you even sure that "typos" is really what you are talking about? – EnergyNumbers Apr 20 '16 at 7:23

However, honestly, only around 10% of them can I finish reading completely. And the reason I gave up reading is that they have too many typos or too big bugs that I can't get away with.

This raises a red flag to me. Reading scientific papers and books is hard. And this is for many different reasons (the topic is just difficult, you need some more prior knowledge that you do not have already, the text is very dense, there are distracting typos…). Saying that you stop to read so often just because of typos seems like you want to have somebody else to blame.

Also: It should be clear to everybody in academia that all papers and books contain typos and errors. As you said, it's people who write and people who check and people make errors. You have to read scientific texts with this in mind and work hard to follow the text. You will not always succeed to read a paper/book until the end at first try. I myself have several books I try reading and every time I try again, I get a little more and sometimes it takes me month or year to get to the next chapter…

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