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Being somewhat familiar with referencing of academic papers as a source, it has struck me as odd why authors would leave out some date on their paper. The date could be the day the author completed the paper on or submit date or published date etc. Certainly it would be of help to others who would want to reference their work? So, does anyone know if there is a specific reason why certain authors leave out a date on their papers?

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    Based on the answer here, maybe the question should be resubmitted as follows: "Why don't all academic papers include the 'submitted for publication' date?" – user47677 Jun 18 '13 at 17:23
  • Welcome to Ac.sx! Your comment and reformulated question will probably not be seen by many here. I think it might be useful if you post it as a new (follow-up) question if you are up for it. – Peter Jansson Jun 18 '13 at 18:39
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    I think dates are really important, to help the reader know whether or not he is reading the latest solution to a research problem. There is no good reason why an author would not chose to write the date on which he last submitted the paper to a conference/journal. – user8800 Sep 29 '13 at 13:13
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    @raghu: The journal includes that information or not; it's not usually up to the author. – aeismail Sep 29 '13 at 13:27
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There is often a substantial delay between when the author finishes a paper and when the paper is actually published. The author may not be totally aware of the publishing date. This is why the authors do not include the date.

The date is generally found in/on the book/proceedings that the paper is published in. This is the date that should be used for referencing a paper.

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    @paulgarrett I think the suggestion that not including a date isn't "forthright" or "truthful" is a bit silly. It's an entirely practical problem - the author doesn't know the date the article will be published, especially published in print, until it is. – Fomite Sep 26 '12 at 4:44
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    @EpiGrad Sorry, I meant the creation-date or submission-date, which are known to the author. These are of different interest than/from the publication date, which may be secondary in many ways. – paul garrett Sep 26 '12 at 12:38
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    The creation date is what is most relevant when we read a paper and want to know how current the research presented in it is. Right now I cannot think of a reason to leave the creation date out, except tradition (which should not be a good enough reason for us). – clstaudt Oct 10 '12 at 9:51
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    @DaveClarke I would say that the date of the most recent modification to the paper does the job. Often, it does not even need to be more fine-grained than the year and the month to judge how current the research is. The date of the idea might also be interesting, but this is something that can be mentioned in the text. – clstaudt Oct 10 '12 at 11:02
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    My point is: When I get a paper it is very often in .pdf form and detached from the publication context (when and where it appeared first is not obvious). When I read sentences like "To our knowledge, we are the first to..." and "We review previous work..." I want to know how old the information is and how likely it is to be outdated. Why not make that easier? – clstaudt Oct 10 '12 at 11:11
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Re completion date: because updating it manually every time you modify a draft is time-consuming and error-prone, and TeX does not really offer an easy out-of-the-box automated solution (mainly because of its inherent limitations as a programming language).

If you use a preprint repository such as arXiv, you have a submission date there, and that is good enough for most purposes.

Some journals list submission, acceptance and publication date, but that is a decision of the publisher, not of the author.

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    Well, in Latex, you have the command \today, that gives the current date! – user102 Sep 26 '12 at 8:11
  • @CharlesMorisset: Correct me if I'm wrong, but there is not macro that will give the date the paper will be published, though. – Dave Clarke Sep 26 '12 at 8:25
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    \today gives the compilation date. If I take a document that I wrote 10 years ago and recompile it, \today expands to 2012. It would not be hard to check the file modification date instead, or get the date from some underlying revision control system, if only TeX were a sane programming language. – Federico Poloni Sep 26 '12 at 8:46
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    TeX is not a programming language. It's a typesetting language--and a versatile one at that, but at heart, it's still for typesetting, not programming (even though it was designed by a programmer!). – aeismail Sep 26 '12 at 9:34
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    @FedericoPoloni: It's also a matter of defining what is the exact completion. To some extent, if you recompile a document you wrote 10 years ago, then you're producing a new version (for instance, maybe the produced PDF slightly changed, maybe some packages you've used have changed). I've already had different PDF produced from the same latex source, but with different compilers (e.g., one on Mac, the other on linux). – user102 Sep 26 '12 at 9:45
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Typically the date information is added by the journal.

In my experience most of the published work that is out there without dates comes from conference proceedings, where this information is given on the front cover but not on individual papers. I agree that it is a problem.

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