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I got a PhD in math in another country years ago. Recently I moved to the US and have a tenured position. Assume I wrote a paper and want to publish it in a journal. Is it considered OK to present the work and/or post an electronic copy on arXiv, before submitting the paper to a journal? In particular, does it matter in what order I do the following things?

1) Present the work in a seminar at my department.

2) Present the work in a conference in my field.

3) Present the work in a seminar at another department.

4) Post the paper on the electronic arXiv.

5) I submit the paper to a journal.

  • In some (mostly STEM fields), conferences serve as publication outlets. In others (mostly humanities and social sciences), conferences serve more to facilitate networking and to gather feedback on a draft before preparing the actual publication. The sequences thus depends on your field. – henning -- reinstate Monica Nov 22 '16 at 10:56
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Overall, I don't think there are much such rules; but I am not in the US, so my expertise is limited.

I personally refrain from presenting a work in seminars (in other department notably) or conferences before it is on the arXiv. The deposit is indeed the moment I have checked everything, and I am confident it holds together. Before that, I may have doubts.

In rare occasion, the preprint takes some time to be finished, or deposited, and I am still confident enough to present it, but it is very rare.

I usually put it on the arXiv before submission, because it is a time stamp and I want my work to be available. Referees rarely check proofs in detail, so you need to make yourself confident about your work anyway. You should however remember to update the preprint to a so-called postprint when the referee reports come in (note that some publishers inexplicably don't allow that, OUP for example).

Another reason to deposit on the arXiv before submission is that Elsevier allows you to update a preprint to a postprint, but is quite unclear whether you have the right to deposit a postprint or preprint for the first time after acceptance. Well, not that I particularly urge anyone to publish with Elsevier, but that is to be known.

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    Putting your work on arXiv also makes it clear that you post a preprint there, which may be relevant from legal standpoint. While embargo on posting postprints in repositories is not that rare, forbidding preprint publication is very unusual in mathematics. – tomasz Nov 22 '16 at 16:25
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    @tomasz: actually, I think that the policy to allow the preprint to be posted but not the postprint is extremely wrong, and in fact unethical. It means that some people will have access to unreliable papers that are known to need correction. It may seem harmless in math (which it is not from a mathematical point of view), but imagine a preprint of a medicine paper whose claims have been asked to be moderated by the referee: that is a big issue. – Benoît Kloeckner Nov 22 '16 at 19:18
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    I think forbidding either of them is unethical, although I don't think your argument is valid. In the cases I know, if you post a preprint (whether or not you post a postprint with it), you are obliged to attach a journal reference to the paper on arXiv after publication. In general, if you go to "production phase" (whether in an industrial context, or figuratively when citing theorem numbers in your next paper), you should rely on the peer-reviewed (journal) version anyway. – tomasz Nov 22 '16 at 19:26
  • @tomasz: my last take on the matter "you should rely on the peer-reviewed (journal) version anyway": not anyone as(legal) access to it, and no one has (legal) access to all published paper. – Benoît Kloeckner Nov 23 '16 at 11:42
  • Everyone has legal access to them, they just need to pay the 40$ or something per paper. ;-) Or you can just e-mail one of the authors. Of course, it would be better if they were all published in open access, but unfortunately, it seems far off for now. – tomasz Nov 23 '16 at 18:03

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