Every research paper refers to or cites other research papers (i.e., references of the paper) to claim:

  • the necessity of the study done in the paper.
  • the suitability of the methods used in the study.
  • the significance of the results obtained in the study.

Quotation errors occur when the claims or proposition in a research paper made in conjunction with references cannot be substantiated by the content of the references.

These errors can be caused by distinct levels of substantiation. The following narrative is based on this article.

Errors cause by partial substantiation

These are least harmful as the claims contain minor errors, don’t contradict the information in the cited article, and don’t invalidate the purpose of the citation (Smith and Cumber).

For example, if an article discusses a 10% reduction cost in cell-based meat production cost by citing an article that actually mentioned a reduction of 5%.

Errors cause by indirect substantiation

When the fact is not found in the cited article but in another article that is referenced inside the originally cited article.

Just imagine how much frustration it causes when someone is spending their time valuable time to look up the information.

Errors by invalid substantiation

These errors are most harmful as the proposition made in the manuscript is contradictory to, unrelated to, or simply missing from the cited article.

if an article discusses a reduction of CO2 emission in developed countries with a citation while the cited article actually reported no change in CO2 emission.

Impossible to substantiate

This arises when a statement that has been cited doesn’t have any proposition to be validated by the cited article or the statement doesn’t need to be cited as the study itself validates it.

For example, without providing a brief description of a method, stating “the method from this reference was used” will cause a quotation error. Because, in the absence of any information about the method in the citing article, it is impossible to make any comparison with the cited article.


Because of the crucial role of the references (described here and here) in establishing the diverse types of claims, quotation errors can have a significant detrimental impact on the paper quality.

Moreover, once the paper is published or communicated with quotations errors, it impacts the credibility, readability of the paper, and future research, costing researchers valuable time and research fundings.

Quotation errors are a type of citation malpractices that are very difficult and time-consuming to discover. Quotation errors may also indicate the presence of other kinds of citation malpractices e.g., self-citation and researchers’ lack of attention to detail.

Therefore, meticulous referencing is necessary to avoid quotations errors. Such referencing efforts will also help researchers to avoid citation errors (e.g., excessive and missing citations) and strengthen attention on the whole research procedure, facilitating better scientific thought process, analysis, and better research reporting (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5953266/).

Do your reference manager and citation tool support you to avoid quotation errors?

No, because only nXr can.

With nXr.iCite (works in combination with nXr.iNote and nXr.iLibrary), you can: cite based on notes and images, specify quotes page numbers in the cited article PDFs, link PDF with each citation, provide citation intent and share all these to the reviewers.

Avoid quotation errors with various approaches in nXr.iCite citation tool