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Conference Proceedings and Papers Guide

Techniques for locating conference proceedings, papers, and presentations.


If you cannot locate it, do not assume the Libraries don't have access to it.  Proceedings are tricky.  Ask your librarian for assistance!

Proceedings may be difficult to find in the library because they don't fall neatly into either the book or the journal category. When looking for conference proceedings, be prepared for a multi-step search process. Never fear!  We are here to help. Use this guide to help inform your search strategy.

Here are some tips:

  • The complete proceedings of a conference many be published in books, journals, or series.
  • Complete proceedings are not always published. Sometimes "select" papers from a conference will be published in books, journals, or series instead. Abstracts, extended abstracts, digests of papers, and invited papers are examples of what may be published in lieu of complete proceedings.
  • Proceedings are not always published for public consumption.  Conferences that are sponsored by private companies or professional associations often send proceedings to members but do not release them to the public.  40% of the time NOTHING is published. 
  • Familiarize yourself with the organization of association by visiting their website. This may help inform your search strategy and will allow you to see what publications they produce.
  • Enter keywords from citations into the search box to find additional details about the publication.
  • Society and association websites often include the recent meeting/conference information. If you are looking for an older conference or proceeding, these sites will likely not yield results.
  • Remember publications may restricted to members of the organization or conference attendees. 

What fields to search:

  • ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) search
  • Series title search
  • ISBN search (specific book number)
  • Editor(s) last name
  • Sponsoring agency or group
  • Corporate Author
  • Author(s) of article plus key phrase from article title
  • Key  two or three-word phrases from conference information or source

When your initial search fails:

Here are some tips to refine your search strategy:

  • Try expanding your date range.  Proceedings often take 2-3 years to become published, digitized, and accessible.  Expanding the date range to include a few years past the conference date might yield results.
  • Try leaving off words like "conference", "meeting", "proceedings", etc.
  • Expand your title search.  It is not uncommon for proceedings to show up under a slightly different or less straightforward name.  Familiarizing yourself with the publications the organization produces can help mitigate this somewhat.
  • Be wary of society acronyms. If the citation shows the abbreviation, try searching that first.  If you can't find it, spell it out.  Don't trust these acronyms to be correct.  For example, ASM can refer to American Society for Metals, American Society for Microbiology, or American Society for Mammalogists. 
  • Don't forget to look for special issues or supplements.  Some organizations consider conferences as extra content and publish them accordingly.
  • Contact the organization directly. Most organizations have a local repository of some sort.  On the website look for keywords such as library or archive.  Search contact lists for librarian, archivist, historian, or document control department.
  • Contact the author directly.  Author addresses or university affiliations often appear on conference websites.  Google scholar searches may turn up the author's Curriculum vitae or more recently published articles that include contact information.

Be sure to ask a Librarian for help if you are unsure or you are not getting the results you thought you would.  We're here to help!