I have found an error in a published article. The error lies within the method section.

I would like then to write a correspondence to let people know about this issue and to explain what could have been done correctly.

I tried to look into the journal webpage but it seems they do not publish correspondences. Where can I then submit my ‘correction’?

My field is applied physical science.


  • 1
    How much of an error is it?
    – Mark
    Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 19:04

2 Answers 2


If the error is simply a typo, or two, or a wrong sub-result which does not fully invalidate the findings, don't bother: the chances of publishing are almost zero. (E.g., in mathematics, around 80% of results are expected to be wrong in the strict sense of the word, e.g., not checking whether your claim "for all n≥0 ..." really includes the case n=0. I don't know about the applied physics, though.)

Thus, let's now assume you have found a serious error. A typical procedure is submitting a corrigendum. Corrigenda get seldom published, though. Read the submission guidelines of the journal in question, and, if it doesn't help, ask the editor.

Usually, the chances of getting such a corrigendum published oneself are slim unless one collaborates with the original authors ‒ otherwise, they would be asked to evaluate the corrigendum.

An aside: If methods mean methodology (rather than, say, algorithms), my personal approach to refereeing the paper would be checking whether the new authors

  • justify why the published part is wrong as it is,

  • improve the wrong part,

  • and re-do it completely, i.e., improve the methodology and apply it.


Some high-profile journals such as Nature and Science accept and publish comments and critiques of their published articles. That's understandable since many of the articles published in such journals are of frontier-level research and, hence, often controversial. But I don't believe that most journals have a mechanism for publishing comments and critiques of published articles. If you want to be helpful, you could just look up the email address of the first author or corresponding author of the article that you have a problem with (oftentimes the email address of the corresponding author is listed on the article itself), and then write a diplomatic email to him or her asking for clarification about the point which you believe is in error. There's nothing wrong with asking for clarification about a point. Also, keep in mind that there's always a possibility that you may be the one who is wrong, and that they may have a good explanation for the point which you believe to be an error.


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