Q: My article had errors concerning important data but it was accepted without corrections. Will this be a problem?

Detailed Question -

I submitted an article to a journal, but later realized that it had errors concerning important data. I was afraid to send them a message about it. Thereafter, the article was accepted without any correction. I was surprised that they did not send me any correction to rectify. I asked by email the possibility of sending a corrected version, but received no answer. I sent another email telling them about the first email and asking them to kindly withdraw the article. I waited almost 7 months, but received no answer. I decided later to publish the article in another journal. The article is published now. Could this situation cause a problem in the future?

1 Answer to this question

If I have understood this situation correctly, the article was accepted by the first journal but not published there and it was both accepted and published later in a second journal. I am assuming that in the second journal, the errors concerning important data were corrected, and thus, the article was accepted for publishing.

There are several points in this entire situation that are matters of concern and could even be considered unethical. The first is your initial fear in letting the journal know about the errors in the data. Perhaps you were afraid they would reject your article. But as a matter of ethics and integrity, if you detect such slips and errors, you should inform the journal and make the correction at the earliest. Even if the article was published by the time you noticed the errors, you need to inform the journal. They can decide if they wish to issue an erratum in the next edition of the journal or, in an extreme case, retract the article. However, it is appreciable that you later decided to inform them of this error. This shows academic honesty on your part, even if somewhat delayed.

On the part of the first journal, as they did not respond to any of your mails, especially about the erroneous data, it seems to have been a low-quality journal, perhaps even a bogus or predatory journal. If so, in one way, it is good your article was not published in such a journal, as it would have affected your academic credentials.

Then, I do hope that when you decided to send the article to the second journal, you informed them of all that transpired with the first journal and also that you corrected the data. If so, you do not have much reason to worry. Just make sure you have retained all communication with the first journal. In case you have not informed the second journal of the history with the first journal, please do so at the earliest as this could lead to problems later.

Finally, in the case that your article was published in the first journal (something I am not clear about), please inform the second journal at the earliest. This is a case of duplicate submission and clearly unethical. Please keep all publishing best practices in mind for future submissions.

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