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Biblatex and arXiv: A Simple Workaround

I’ve written before on using arXiv (see why I post to it and watching out for posting delays) and I rely on it to share preprints for most of my work. It’s usually fairly easy to share a paper by uploading the LaTeX source files. But recently I hit a snag due a conflict between a journal’s requirements, arXiv’s backend, and the LaTeX install on my own machine. I wasted probably a couple of hours on trying to identify the problem (mostly tied to the biblatex package) and get a clean solution, but in the end I did the simplest thing I could think of and wanted to share it here.

A brief summary:

Problem: I needed to use the biblatex package to properly format my references for IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering (TBME). biblatex is very finicky with version numbers and it was recently updated. arXiv won’t compile a source whose bbl file (i.e., reference list) was generated from a different version than its system.

Solution: Disable use of biblatex in the version uploaded to arXiv, since they don’t have TBME’s formatting requirements.

For more rambling about how I stumbled into this problem, read on …

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Deadlines and Academic Writing

There’s a love-hate relationship between deadlines and research. If open research is really open, then unrealistic deadlines only get in the way. Does it make sense to have a submission deadline if you haven’t figured out what problem to solve? I definitely don’t recommend pushing out an incomplete paper just to have your name on something. If that’s the case, then the deadline is being more of a stick than a carrot.

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Diligence in the Author Proof Process

It’s always satisfying to see your paper get accepted by a peer-reviewed technical journal. You have recognition of your work, both of your research and the writing itself. You’ve satisfied the expert reviewers who were asked to assess what you’ve done. If you’ve gone through a few rounds of revision, then you’re familiar with the process of addressing concerns and suggestions. This takes a lot of diligence, since every critical point made by a reviewer should be accounted for. While it’s a good reason to celebrate, it’s not the end of the road. After a paper is accepted, and before it is finally published, there’s the proofing process. The publications team will finalize your paper in the format required for the journal, and they will send you a proof for your approval.

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arXiv “on hold”: Beware Delays in arXiv Posts

In an earlier post I described my reasons for posting on arXiv, including some consequences to watch out for. I did, however, leave out an important potential problem, especially if you are depending on a permanent link. If you are not careful, there can be a long delay in your manuscript being posted. In one case my wait was over 2 months. In the end, it was (probably) my own fault, but I wanted to share the details here so that it might help someone from making the same mistake. My warning is to be careful with subject classification. Read more

3 Reasons to Post on arXiv

Publishing in academia can be a scramble. If you’re working on a “hot” topic, then there’s a demand to get your results out before someone else does it first. That’s not a good reason to rush a manuscript, or to submit an article to a publication just because it has a faster turnaround time, but it does add a sense of urgency (and sometimes that’s a good thing). This is publish or perish in action. Read more