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I got my paper accepted to a conference, whose proceedings will be published in IEEE digital library (eXplore). The General chair asked me for the paper source, I was astonished when she insisted on me submitting a Word version even though the conference offered LaTex template which I used.

My question is twofold:

Why would the conference chair need the source of my paper?

Knowing that i couldn't convert my pdf paper to a decent Word file, is it my problem at all to do that since the conference allowed using a LaTex template for paper writing but did not alert that a Word source would be required in case of acceptance?

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    Have you asked the conference chair by e-mail about how to proceed and highlighted the technical issue? – O. R. Mapper Oct 9 '15 at 16:17
  • I did let the chair know about the conversion issue and whether i can submit a LaTex source as it is usually possible in IEEE conf. She insisted on a Word version. – hmitcs Oct 9 '15 at 16:56
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    It sounds like there was a change in editorial procedure and they forgot to update the instructions. A nice headache for you! If you are in her shoes someday, I bet you will not be so slipshod with the instructions for authors. – aparente001 Oct 16 '15 at 3:25
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While we obviously do not know the Chair's intent (unless she happens to be a stack exchange poster), the most likely situation to me is that there's some sort of formatting related issue (or possibly some typos, etc. that need correcting) in your submitted version that they are incapable of fixing given your PDF file.

This does not necessarily imply it's your fault - typesetting systems are sometimes fussy, but asking for both a Word version and the source indicates, to me, that they want "A version they can edit".   

On a practical level, yes, it's your problem. You could refuse of course, with unknown results.

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    The outcome would be rejection. The chair has chosen Word since most authors used Word. I do not have choices, but still find annoying that they offered LaTex templates and did not inform us that a Word source is required after paper acceptation. – hmitcs Oct 9 '15 at 17:09
  • @hmitcs I assumed the outcome would be rejection, but for all I know your submission is the finest work ever to grace your field, aberrant formatting issues and all. My guess is that LaTex templates were offered with good intentions, and a Word source was not intended to be required, but something happened. – Fomite Oct 10 '15 at 4:15
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If the paper is to be part of a published proceedings, an editable source format often reduces the cost (and sometimes the annoyance) of print production (and even reformatting into XML, where that is a thing).

For good or ill, many such production workflows start with Word. Others do start with some flavor of TeX.

I agree they ought to have told you what they expected. Unfortunately, they hold all the cards here and can demand of you whatever format they need.

  • I somehow feel neither this nor the other answer are very satisfying in terms of saying why a Word file is required. Various conferences I have submitted to offered both a LaTeX and a Word template, and I have never heard about one subset of authors being required to rewrite their submission in the other format because they happened to pick the less popular one. In the contrary, most editors seem to be totally fine with having to process both LaTeX and Word documents into the final proceedings. Therefore, the explanation with the production workflow may be a realistic, but a really weak one. – O. R. Mapper Oct 9 '15 at 21:00
  • Seems fairly straightforward to me: one workflow is cheaper and easier than two. – D.Salo Oct 9 '15 at 21:02
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    For the editor, yes. Not for the author who has to reformat their document. IMHO the described case is the situation where some professors I know, who are otherwise not directly involved with writing a paper (just with guiding the research on a higher level), will step in and take over the e-mail communication with the editor from the first author (usually a doctoral candidate or so) to explain their dissatisfaction with how their employees' time is being wasted in clear words. I have seen how the apparent issue would suddenly disappear like this, but of course it might not work for everyone. – O. R. Mapper Oct 9 '15 at 21:11
  • @O.R.Mapper You don't know that a whole subset of users "LaTeX" has to rewrite their submission - it's possible it's just this submission that's going wrong. For example, I once had a paper that needed to be reformatted because of an error between the PDF preview and what got sent to the editors. We could have spent a long time tracking down errors in a proprietary publishing software platform...or I would rewrite it. You'll note the OP hasn't asked the chair why. – Fomite Oct 10 '15 at 4:18
  • I totally share Mapper's point of view. I wished my supervisor or my co-supervisor could step in, but they took a pragmatic reaction and asked me to convert the source to Word. Now, I guess the editor required the format that works best for them. This is frustrating particularly since i have many formulas, algorithms and graphs to embed in the Word file. – hmitcs Oct 10 '15 at 18:52

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