Sunday, August 2, 2015

The beauty of Aug 2

Today is August 2. Over the last two years, this day has held special significance for me and hundreds of thousands of other researchers across the US and indeed, the world. The reason is summed up in three words - Transportation Research Board. For, Aug. 1 (anywhere in the world) is the deadline for paper submissions to the Annual Meeting of TRB, the largest transportation conference in the world. And unlike just about every other conference, that is a very hard deadline. If you miss it, try next year.

Now, the papers submitted to TRB are not all that great - that's a fact. The problem lies in the low impact factor of the associated journal TRR, but they have been working on improving it. But as a networking opportunity, nothing beats TRB, and it helps to present over there, thus giving you a ready audience without having to go out and make an elevator pitch. From industry to academia, everybody is there, everybody wants to listen, but you need to have something worth listening to. It's a healthy tradition for everyone to stay up late before the deadline, and to work extremely hard the week before it. And thus it was with me.

A tip for first-timers: make your profile several months before, when the system is up. Put in a some dummy text and files. Towards the end, when there is a mad rush to submit, the server can take a beating, so finish the clerical stuff early on, so that you just need to change the title, abstract and upload the PDF file in end. And then, just wait for the review. TRB rejects about 40% of papers submitted (and over 60% for TRR), but the reviewers are some of the best you can get, so it is a good experience, whatever be the result.

And the next day, Aug. 2, is a day to relax. Because the mad rush is finally over. Well, at least for a few months! 

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