Difference between errata and addenda and how to handle them
Even the most careful researcher can make mistakes. Such errors can affect the scientific rigour of a paper and the publication record of the author. There may also be times when a vital piece of information comes in just after your paper is published; the addition of those details might be crucial for readers to appreciate the study fully. As a researcher, you must know how such errors or missing details are dealt with in academic publishing.
An erratum (plural, errata) refers to a correction of a significant error in a published text. Errata should be published for scientifically relevant changes (such as missing or unclear figures) or changes to authorship if the author list was originally incorrect. Errata do not usually include typographic errors of little consequence, e.g. spelling or grammatical errors that do not affect the meaning.
Example of an erratum
Erratum: [Title of the Original Article]
This note aims to correct an error in Table 1 of Abc et al. (2021). In the version of this article initially published, there was an error in Table 1. The headings for columns 2 and 3 were erroneously interchanged. The correct heading for column 1 is ‘Risk factors’, and the correct heading for column 2 is ‘Patient characteristics’. The other elements of the table remain the same, and the interpretation of the results remains unchanged.
Other names for errata
Journals may have varying terminologies for types of corrections. Publisher errors and author errors might be referred to as errata and corrigenda, respectively, by some journals. Other publishers use errata and corrigenda only for author errors, while a publisher’s note is issued for correcting publisher errors.
An addendum (plural, addenda) is an addition that needs to be made to a paper after it has been published. An addendum is published when an additional piece of information important for the understanding of the article has arisen after the publication of the article. The additional information might serve to add more depth to the topic or clarify or expand a published article.
Example of an addendum
Addendum to the paper [Title of the Original Article]
Since the appearance of our original paper (Xyz et al., 2021), our attention was drawn to the experiment by XXX et al. (2021). When we re-examined our samples at the temperatures used by them, we found that ___. We present the detailed results of the modified experiments in this addendum.
Note about errata and addenda
The original article is not revised to accommodate changes indicated in errata or addenda. Instead, hyperlinks bidirectionally link the article with the published erratum or addendum. You may explore a real case of both an erratum and addendum here.
Requesting and writing errata or addenda
To request the publication of an erratum or addendum, email the editor of the journal, explaining the situation. Identify the original article, including the title and digital object identifier (DOI), and describe the exact text that warrants a change, along with a clear explanation of the reason. The editor will determine the impact of the change, decide the necessary course of action and finalise the exact wording of the correction notice.
Errors made in published papers are not uncommon, but these errors can affect your publication record as an author. As a responsible researcher, you should immediately notify the journal editor if a significant error is identified in your publication, and work closely with the editor to have the required notice issued.
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