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Conference Proceedings: A How-To Guide

Techniques for locating conference papers and journal articles that were based on conference presentations.

Was It Published?

It is difficult to know how many proceedings are actually published or made available in some way. One of the few places where any sort of figure is given says that “Only two-thirds of conferences ever have published proceedings, only three-fourths of the people who present conference papers plan to have their work formally published.” (DeFelice, Barbara (ed.) Science & Engineering Conference Proceedings. Chicago: ACRL, 1995, p. 4)

Looking for a conference paper and still not sure if it's available?

  • try searching by author/title in a database of published articles such as Compendex or Google Scholar. Sometimes the author publishes it later in a journal article but has varied the title slightly.
  • look for later publications by the same author - they often cite their own earlier publications in the list of references.
  • if the conference was held in the last couple of years, try searching for the author email address - sometimes easily found using Google - and write the author directly.

Proceedings can be published in a separate proceedings volume and given to all attendees, but some conferences charge separate fees for attendees to purchase copies of the proceedings.

Conference organizers may make proceedings freely available on the Internet.

Proceedings can be published in special issues of association journals (this is especially like to happen for larger associations that sponsor a conference if the association also publishes a professional journal).

Conference organizers may choose to only make “invited” presentations available as part of the proceedings and not all of the presentations.

Conference organizers may choose to NOT publish any of the presentations, expecting presenters to submit them individually for publication as an article in the journal of their choice.

Publishers may acquire “selected papers” from a conference and publish them together as a book.

Authors may make text or presentation files available on their personal/professional web page.

Authors may take their presentation and modify it based on questions from conference participants and then publish it as a journal article.

Depending on where the conference was held, and who sponsored it, the proceedings can take 2-5 years to become published.

Proceedings can be published in a separate proceedings volume and given to all attendees, but some conferences charge separate fees for attendees to purchase copies of the proceedings.

Conference organizers may make proceedings freely available on the Internet.

Proceedings can be published in special issues of association journals (this is especially like to happen for larger associations that sponsor a conference if the association also publishes a professional journal).

Conference organizers may choose to only make “invited” presentations available as part of the proceedings and not all of the presentations.

Conference organizers may choose to NOT publish any of the presentations, expecting presenters to submit them individually for publication as an article in the journal of their choice.

Publishers may acquire “selected papers” from a conference and publish them together as a book.

Authors may make text or presentation files available on their personal/professional web page.

Authors may take their presentation and modify it based on questions from conference participants and then publish it as a journal article.

Depending on where the conference was held, and who sponsored it, the proceedings can take 2-5 years to become published.

Requesting conference proceedings through Interlibrary Loan often takes longer than traditional journal article requests because it usually takes longer to locate a library that owns them. Some may come in electronic format while others may arrive in book format. It varies depending on the conference being requested.

If you are unable to find what you are looking for in the ISU collections, but think we probably DO have it, please contact me or use the Ask Us! service.

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Your Librarian

Lorrie Pellack's picture
Lorrie Pellack
Contact:
Head of Research Services
150 Parks Library
Ames, IA 50011-2140
Phone: 515-294-5569

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