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Conference papers: Introduction

How to find and use conference papers.

What are conference papers?

Conferences are usually organised by professional societies or organisations and enable academics to present their research findings, discuss ideas, gather feedback and network. There are different types of conference such as symposia, colloquia and workshops.  Papers presented at the conference are published in collections called conference proceedings.

Some papers or conferences may be unpublished and are only available from the authors. Papers may be re-edited and then published as journal articles or as a special issue of a journal or as a book.

Points to note with conference papers

  • There is no standard way of publishing or indexing conference proceedings so they can be difficult to find.
  • They may not be published or only the abstracts are published.
  • They may not be peer-reviewed.

Why use conference papers?

  • The research will be up to date and may still be in progress.
  • The research may not be published in any other format.
  • They can help you find experts in the field.
  • In some subject areas (e.g. Computing) conference papers are as important as journal articles.

Referencing conference papers

The exact form that a reference takes will depend on the referencing style the author is using. However, a reference to an individual conference paper will usually comprise: the author(s), the year of publication, the title of the paper, the title of the conference, location and date of the conference, place of publication and publisher (not required if published on the internet), the pages the conference paper starts and ends, an available at: or doi if the proceedings are published on the internet. For example:

Schielen, E., Antritter, F. and Ungar P. (2002) 'Diode-pumped semiconductor disk-laser', Conference on optoelectronic and microelctronic materials and devices.,  Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 11-13 December. pp. 29-32. doi 10.1109/COMMAD.2002.1237181

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