I have submitted a research article and later realized that it has a slight error. The paper is now under review. I have proposed a few theorems; one theorem contains a slight error that can easily be removed. The methodology is correct. Would this cause the rejection of my paper?

  • 7
    I would contact the editor and point out the problem. The editor might be able to convey the issue to the reviewers. If the process has come too far you might get a reject but you could still contact the editor explaning your problem and ask if the paper could be reconsidered. May 14, 2013 at 10:00
  • @PeterJansson Is there more chances of getting rejection? Will they not consider my other contributions and idea presented in the paper?
    – Srijan
    May 14, 2013 at 10:21
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    Everything depends on how serious the problem is in terms of affecting any of your conclusions. If you do not do anything, nothing might happen, so it is a judgement call. If the correction helps anyone understanding the paper better, I would say you should make the contact. If it is on the level of a typo and does not affect results, it should not be grounds for rejection. Clearly it is impossible toprovide clear distinct recommendations without knowing the details. May 14, 2013 at 10:29
  • @PeterJansson It will not affect the result. More specifically, I have constructed an iteration method of second order where I have given the expression for error estimates. There is one typo in the final error estimate expression. Although it will not affect order of the convergence.
    – Srijan
    May 14, 2013 at 10:34
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    It does not sound like a big problem to me. My original suggestion, however, still stands. You could send off a mail to the editor pointing at the error and making clear that it is of no significance for the peper. The worst that can happen is that you do not get a reply. I would think any editor would be happy to receive an upfront letter like that. I would, however, also like to see others comments on this. May 14, 2013 at 10:44

2 Answers 2


In order to answer this question, we need to define some magnitudes of errors.

A small error does not affect the conclusions and if the manuscript was accepted as is could be fixed in the proof stage before the manuscript goes to press.

A minor error does not affect the conclusions but requires too many changes to be made that it could not be fixed in the proof stage.

A substantial error affects the conclusions and would require the manuscript to be re-reviewed.

If you have found a substantial error, you need to contact the editor and request the manuscript be pulled from the review process. You do not want to waste the time of the editor and reviewers. A small error can either be ignored or reported to the editor if you think that the correction will help save the reviewers time. Minor errors are the real problem. There is no easy way to tell the editor/reviewer what is wrong, but an unclear manuscript is likely to get negative reviews. I would suggest contacting the editor and explaining and apologizing for the problem.

The real question should be how did you find the error? What are you doing looking at a manuscript after it has been submitted?

  • Dear sir it is a matter of small error. It will not affect conclusions. There is one typo in writing the expression for the error estimate. Although it will not affect my conclusions.
    – Srijan
    May 14, 2013 at 13:38
  • I would then let the editor know. You don't want the reviewers scratching their heads trying to figure out what is going on.
    – StrongBad
    May 14, 2013 at 14:33
  • Dear sir wouldn't it will leave bad impact on editor?
    – Srijan
    May 14, 2013 at 15:17
  • @srijan this is not really a discussion site. If you want to discuss the issue, you could try our chat room.
    – StrongBad
    May 14, 2013 at 15:28
  • wouldn't it will leave bad impact on editor? — Not as bad as if the reviewer finds the error, or worse, if the error is only discovered post-publication.
    – JeffE
    May 14, 2013 at 19:46

What if you have submitted a[n]... article ... that has a slight error?

You're answering your own question. If it's slight, then it's slight, and should not matter much.

Still, to be more practical: If

  • The error, despite its slightness, means a significant claim is invalid, and
  • The "distance" from the submitted version to the corrected version is small (e.g. replace a sentence, change a couple of numbers etc.), and
  • You've just now submitted the paper (i.e. not weeks ago)

then I might describe a correction, in at most one paragraph of text (hopefully much less), and would write the PC chair to ask whether that can be passed on to the reviewers.

In all other cases I'd just wait it out and see.

Would it cause the rejection of my paper?

If the error is indeed slight, then this is very unlikely. But if your theorem says "P = NP" and you typed "=" instead of "!=", then maybe it will be rejected :-)

Seriously, though, the only cases I think this could have any weight is:

  • Clueless reviewer who loses track of the flow of the paper because of the slight mistake, and thinks you've derailed yourself with it
  • The slight mistake being accompanied by several other mistakes, slight or otherwise, so the submission is perceived as having numerous mistakes (regardless of their severity).

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