If you were naive like me and downloaded the IEEE conference template from IEEE’s website you may have experienced a puzzling error:
“Something’s wrong–perhaps a missing \item”
There is no point in trying to fix this as the reason this is happening is because the IEEE website gives you a template with an old
IEEEtran.bst file. Go download the new version of
IEEEtran.bst here from CTAN. Then delete all intermediate files (
.bbl, etc.) and recompile. This worked for me.
Lesson learned: Never download IEEE templates from IEEE. Always use CTAN.