Confessions of a researchaholic

January 12, 2010

How to deal with paper deadlines

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:57 pm
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(Below is what I sent out to my collaborators for SIGGRAPH. I believe similar principles could be applied for other conferences as well.)

1. I recommend that only one person (the account creator) uploads materials to the sis account during the last day prior to the deadline, to avoid confusion and potential concurrent read/write hazards. I am usually a bad choice for material uploads as I will become a sequential bottleneck for uploading to multiple accounts. (Not to mention that I might get confused and mixed up the materials.) The same person should also be responsible to check all fields of the submission account to make sure everything is correct. I would usually take a pass to check everything, but the buck has to stop with the account creator.

2. The SIS server would usually be overloaded during the last few hours prior to the deadline, so upload all materials early and frequently. You can always overwrite the old materials with the new ones. If you wait until the last few hours or even minutes and find out that you cannot access the server, do not cry for help from me. I do not control the servers and there is nothing I can do.

3. On a similar vein, even though it is possible to upload only the checksums for the files prior to the deadline and upload materials with identical checksums later, I strongly recommend against doing so, unless you are very sure what you are doing. The main reason is that even with the same source files, different compilations could produce binary data with different checksums, e.g. pdflatex. So if you accidentally overwrite or lose the file, you are screwed. My overall recommendation is to avoid uploading anything in the last 2 to 3 hours prior to the deadline; this not only avoids potential server overloads but also help ensure that the files you uploaded are “sane”, for which humans tend not to be near the deadline according to my experience.

4. (For my collaborators in particular)
Do not assume I will be available during the last 8 hours prior to the deadline. Humans tend to procrastinate and end up with a lot of work for the last minutes. (I see this every single year, and I *never* understand why.) Unfortunately, given the number of projects I am usually involved with, it is mathematically impossible for me to spend the kind of time (every one of) you would prefer during these rush hours. So to lower people’s expectation and to encourage better time management, simply assume I will not be responding.

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