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Conference Proceedings: A How-To Guide

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

Abstracts & Preprints

Many organizations are now printing “abstracts only” instead of publishing the full papers – for example, the American Ceramic Society and the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers. A number of scientific societies publish these in a series called Abstracts of Papers. Similarly, the Geological Society of America publishes Abstracts with Programs (which are searchable online) while the American Meteorological Society announces the preprint proceedings of their conference in their Bulletin and has an online searchable version as well. Some organizations will present a condensed version or synopsis of the text – for example, Digests of Papers published by the IEEE. Researchers who go looking for these types of publications may not realize they will only be seeing a short summary of the paper.

The American Chemical Society publishes both abstracts and preprints that are completely different publications. Prior to each national meeting, many ACS divisions send their members either abstracts or preprints of papers to be presented during their portion of the meeting program. Individual ACS divisions publish a heavily cited series called Preprints of Papers, while the main body of ACS publishes a Book of Abstracts. The Book of Abstracts contains abstracts of papers from all divisions and secretariats as well as from the committees that organize technical programming. ACS also distributes something they call Abstract Separates which are abstracts of a single division, printed separately from the Book of Abstracts. Division members in good standing are mailed their preferred Abstract Separates prior to national meetings as a member benefit. The ACS division preprints are not the full text of the papers that are intended to be presented – they are usually 2-4 pages in length and consist of a summary, the data, figures, nomenclature, and references. Preprints (for recent years) are available to members on the ACS website. If you have a citation to the ACS Book of Abstracts, you may be able to locate some additional information by looking to see which division sponsored the presentation and tracking down the preprints from that division. Some (but definitely not all) symposia have been organized and published by ACS Books or other commercial publishers. Technical Programming Archive of Past National Meetings (2004-onwards) is available online and is browsable for particular papers. ACS maintains a website of Programming Policies and Procedures which can also be helpful for tracking down specific ACS publications.

Your Librarian

Lorrie Pellack's picture
Lorrie Pellack
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Phone: 515-294-5569

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