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I submitted a paper to a conference, and got it accepted. While I was preparing for the camera-ready version of it, I made a mistake and an error slipped in.

After the firm deadline, I asked if a correction was possible, but they said it's too late since it had gone through all the procedures. So, it seems my conference paper will be uploaded online with an error, which is not too obvious, but obvious enough that a careful reader can spot it.

I'm writing a journal version of it, and making sure it doesn't contain any error. Would it be okay to have the journal version published error-free, while the conference version has an error?

Many say that no one actually carefully reads conference papers as they are mainly aimed to let others know new results, and say that it is journal papers that others read with more care if available.

This is my first published conference paper, and it is really embarrassing. I was obssessed with finding typos, and blind to technical errors.

Thanks.

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The reality is that the best answer is simply "get used to it". It is sad that this happened to you in your first conference paper, but things do get published with mistakes, and there is really nothing very much anyone can do about: you can proof read papers as often as you want, and there will always be mistakes. I'm not saying this because I am a nihilist but simply because I'm pragmatic: of course I want papers to be perfect; it just isn't practical.

The interesting question is only: how severe is the error. You don't answer this in your question above, but if it is really only a typo or misspelling, then it would not be worth your sleep. If it is a mistake that a reasonably educated reader will be able to understand as a mistake, the same would probably apply. If you submitted a proof that has a mistake and upon further thought you realize that the whole theorem is not true, that would be a separate matter -- but you wouldn't introduce such an error while dealing with the final version of the paper.

  • In my paper, I give a functional relation, say, y := f(a, b, c), in the beginning. Later in proving a theorem, I mistakenly write a sentence that goes like: '...something is due to the predefined functional relation y := f(a, b)...' Simply, a careful reader will notice it and think "isn't 'c' also supposed to be one of the arguments?" So, it is kind of an error that readers may think of me as a careless writer. – PurplePenguin May 9 '15 at 5:11
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    It happens. You will be considered a careless writer if such things happen in many different places. If it's in a single place, then it's not worth worrying about. – Wolfgang Bangerth May 9 '15 at 12:42
  • I would be very happy if that was the worst error in one of my papers. Don't sweat it. I'm not even sure this is worth an footnote in the journal version. – Alexander Woo May 10 '15 at 4:03
  • @Wolfgang Bangerth Thank you for your wonderful answer – Christina Dec 5 '17 at 2:29
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While there will certainly be a mistake in the version published with the proceedings (i.e., on the USB stick or other media given out at the conference), it is likely that it can still be corrected in the final archival version. If your conference is associated with a professional society that maintains archival versions (e.g., IEEE, ACM, AAAI), check and see if the same mechanisms for handling errata on a journal article post-publication can be applied to errata on a conference article post-publication. I had much the same thing happen to me with one of my early conference articles as well; it was in an ACM conference, and though dealing with the errata was a pain, I got it through and the version you download today should be correct.


Correction: per the OP's comment apparently the IEEE won't do it, which seems problematic and is news to me. In that case, the best thing to do is probably to just

  1. Make sure it's correct in the journal version (and include a footnote in that paper that explicitly notes the error in the prior conference publication), and
  2. Post a note alongside your self-archived pre-print giving the errata as well.
  • Thanks for your response. However, it seems I can't edit the error according to this link: supportcenter.ieee.org/app/answers/detail/a_id/172/~/…. I contacted the conference via email, and they said, "the last submitted version of your paper will be used for inclusion in the proceedings and publication in the IEEE Xplore". So, I suppose I can't get the archival version correct either, can I? – PurplePenguin May 9 '15 at 2:45

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