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What are conference proceedings?

Conferences are a major source of cutting edge research. At conferences, researchers present a paper on their research and discuss this with attendees. The papers presented at a conference are then usually published (but not always). They can therefore give you the latest information on research in your field.


Why can conference proceedings be so difficult to find?

There is no standard way of publishing or indexing conference proceedings. They might be published as online conference papers, as articles within a journal, or as books of conference proceedings. Sometimes the proceedings are not published and may only be available from the authors.

They may also be called meetings, symposia, seminars, colloquia, congresses, workshops, or conventions!


How to find conference proceedings

Search databases that index conference papers

Web of Science indexes 160,000+ conference proceedings dating from 1990.  Select 'Web of Science Core Collection', then under 'More settings' tick 'Conference Proceedings Citation Index' to include conference proceedings in your search.

Scopus includes 6.8m conference papers. In 'Document search', enter your search term then select 'Conference' from the drop-down box on the right of the search term box.

Google Scholar indexes conference papers. Search by keyword and add the word 'conference' and the year to your search e.g. 'conference chemistry 2015'. See Google Scholar Search tips.

Citations for conference proceedings are often included in subject-specific databases and databases created just for proceedings

The British Library conference index contains the records of 400,000 conference proceedings held in stock, with 16,000 new records added each year.  The Chemistry Library can request conference proceedings from the British Library for you. Please see our Requesting items not held in Cambridge web page for more information.

COS Conference Papers Index provides citations to papers and poster sessions presented at major scientific meetings around the world. Subject emphasis since 1995 has been in the life sciences, environmental sciences and the aquatic sciences, while older material also covers physics, engineering and materials science, from 1982 onwards.

You can set up search or citation alerts for these in the same way you would for searches or individual papers, so you can keep up to date with the latest conference proceedings in your field.

Search for the conference proceedings as a book or journal

Search the library catalogue, iDiscover, for the conference name or the ISBN of the proceeding (not the title of the conference paper). For proceedings published in a special journal issue search the library catalogue for the name of the journal. For example, MRS (Materials Research Society) Proceedings.

Search for a website for the conference or from its sponsor

These will often tell you if the proceedings have been published. Some even offer abstracts or full-text on the conference website. For example: